Marshalltown - Freshman Blake Keller was the highest-finishing South Tama cross country runner at the Marshalltown Earlybird Invitational on Thursday.
Keller, who will most likely run varsity most of this season, ran in the junior varsity race to begin the season. He placed fourth in the 5-kilometer race, finishing in a time of 19:50.
"What we did today was just run a time trial," coach George Kuhter said. "I took our younger guys with less experience and ran them in the JV just to get some experience. Blake Keller's never ever not led a race, but then he goes into this race with 4A schools and they're going to run him down from behind. That's something that comes with experience and the kids that ran him down are more experienced."
South Tama sophomore Robert Tyynismaa sprints down the home stretch of the 5-kilometer course Thursday afternoon in Marshalltown. Tyynismaa led the varsity boys with a 10-place finish in a time of 18:20.
Keller was one of two Trojans to finish in the top 10 of their respective races. Sophomore Robert Tyynismaa placed 10th in the varsity race. He finished in a time of 18:20.
"It went better than I expected," Tyynismaa said. "I probably didn't do as much stretching as I should have, because my quads and thighs are a bit tight."
The varsity boys' team finished sixth out of nine teams at the invitational. STC scored 135 points as a team. Waterloo West won the meet with a score of 23.
The other varsity runners for South Tama were senior Brady Ellenbecker (21st, 19:15), junior Surrell Youngbear (27th, 19:46), senior James Norton (36th, 20:35) and junior Taylen Anderson (63rd, 22:40).
"It was a good first race for everyone to see where they are at," Tyynismaa said. "We got to see what we need to do and what we need to fix."
Senior Kelsey Kupka led the varsity girls Thursday. She finished 20th, running the 4-kilometer course in a time of 19:14. Only four STC runners finished the varsity girls race so the Trojans didn't record a team score.
Junior Regina Balderas (40th, 20:18), sophomore Naomi Hoskey (49th, 21:22) and junior Erin Filloon (54th, 22:28) rounded out the varsity finishers. Junior Taylor Ellenbecker also ran the race, but didn't finish.
"The girls are young," Kuhter said. "We have just three seniors. We're trying to figure things out right now. We need to know what we can do and go from there. The girls that ran varsity last year ran in the big race.
"She's fine," he said of T. Ellenbecker. "It's one of those experience deals and taking better care of herself. She'll be fine."
A trio of Trojans nearly finished together in the junior varsity girls race. Senior Natasha Musgrave, sophomore Ericka Dunning and senior Grace Kavalier finished 29th, 30th and 31st, all within 10 seconds of each other. Brittany Bear (48th) and Kristi Lasley (49th) also ran in the JV race.
Filling out the JV boys race were sophomores Jake Theissen (30th), Cade Steuhm (40th), Britton Waldo (41st) and Andrew Kajer (42nd). The Trojans placed fifth out of six teams in the race.
"Overall, I think everybody ran well," Kuhter said. "We had a lot of experienced guys this year. Our inexperience showed tonight overall."
South Tama will compete at Grinnell on Tuesday, before going back to Marshalltown on Sept. 6. The Grinnell meet will start at 5 p.m.