Trojan coach George Kuhter was pleased with the good start, particularly with the performances of his young runners. “We ran well last night. There are still things that we need to work on as a team but overall, we ran well. Robert (Tyynismaa) and Regina (Balderas) ran strong as did all of the young kids.”
Balderas won the JV race on the heels of a strong finish with a time of 19:32. She was followed by another top-ten finish by freshman Dahiana Puentes, who turned in a time of 20:52 for eighth place. Rounding out the JV for South Tama with their team placings and times were Grace Kavalier (28th, 23:20), Julie Wise (31st, 23:51), and Brittany Bear (46th, 27:28).
Overall, the girls JV finished in 5th place with 114 points in the eight team field. The Ottumwa Bulldogs dominated the JV girls, placing the next five girls after Balderas and chalking up a team score of just 20.
Freshman Robert Tyynismaa was the top runner for the JV Trojan boys. His time of 19:49 was good enough for third overall behind two boys from Waterloo West, the eventual JV team champs.
Also running for the Trojans were Tavian Anderson (47th, 27:13), Drew Belton (50th, 27:50) and Britton Waldo (55th, 30:59). The boys did not qualify for a team finish, lacking a fifth runner.
Kuhter has coached young runners before and used the meet to begin grooming his JV athletes..
“The younger kids were nervous and I made sure that we used this as a confidence builder so rather than making them run a varsity meet right off the bat, we did run them in the lower level races so they could get their confidence up.”
Fortunately, South Tama has some veteran runners as well. “Our varsity knows where they are and what kind of shape they are in so it was just a meet for them.”
Pacing the Trojan varsity girls was last year’s state qualifier in cross country and a state medalist in track (3000 meter run), Taylor Ellenbecker. The sophomore turned in a time of 18:12, placing her 13th overall in the field of 69 runners.
Teammate Kelsey Kupka, a 3A state qualifier in the 1500 meter run last spring, was just behind with a time of 18:27, good enough for 18th.
Rounding out the girls varsity effort were Samantha Frundle (42nd, 20:27), Tasha Musgrave (47th, 21:11), Amanda Husak (49th, 21:40), and Erin Filloon (51st, 22:05).
The South Tama JV girls ended up 6th overall (169 pts) in the nine-team field. The Ottumwa girls edged the host Bobcats, 45-52 to take first place honors.
On the varsity boys’ side, 2010 state qualifier Brandon Nelson paced the Trojans with a time of 17:32 for a fifth place finish.
Junior Brady Ellenbecker, a state qualifier in the 800m and 1600m events last spring, followed in 13th with a time of 18:18. Completing the varsity boys field were Brad Cecak (38th, 21:11), James Norton (41st, 23:26) and Dwayne Johnson (44th, 25:55).
South Tama finished sixth in the team standings. Marshalltown edged Waterloo West, 46-49, to take the boys’ crown.
The Trojans have some time off before competing again, and Kuhter knows how he is going to use it.
“We are going to work hard next week and come out with guns blazing for Grinnell (September 6) and our return to Marshalltown (September 8).”
But the real focus for the Trojans is the big prize at the end. As Kuhter noted, “We will be getting better in the month to come, but the important meets are in October, not in August."
South Tama's young runners ran hard and finished strong at the Marshalltown cross country meet Aug. 25. Sophomore Regina Balderas ran to a first place finish in the girls JV race, finishing with a time of 19:32.
Jeff Barker photo
Fact BoxVarsity team results
1 Ottumwa 45
2 Marshalltown 52
3 Waterloo West 87
4 Dike-New Hartford 93
5 Webster City 118
6 South Tama 169
7 Grundy Center 176
8 Belle Plaine 218
1 Marshalltown 46
2 Waterloo West 49
3 Ottumwa 80
4 Webster City 100
5 Dike-New Hartford 101
6 South Tama 141
7 Grundy Center 200