MARSHALLTOWN - Cooler temperatures and a familiar course helped the South Tama cross country teams drop their times last week.
After struggling at Grinnell last Tuesday, the Trojans headed back to Marshalltown, where they ran two weeks prior. While Thursday's meet had much better competition than the season opener, the Trojans had their best meet of the season.
"It went a lot better than Tuesday," coach George Kuhter said. "On Tuesday, the kids were upset with the way they ran, I was upset with the way they ran and their parents were upset with the way they ran. But we had a meeting and laid it on the line. We have to buckle down and we have to go. I think they understood it and everybody ran fast. Everybody ran really, really fast."
South Tama senior Brady Ellenbecker, left, and sophomore Robert Tyynismaa run together during Thursday’s race in Marshalltown.
South Tama split its teams into upperclassmen and underclassmen for the meet. The freshmen and sophomores ran in the 9-10 class race, while the juniors and seniors ran in the varsity race. No Trojans ran in the junior varsity races.
Senior Brady Ellenbecker led the STC varsity boys for the first time this season. Ellenbecker and sophomore Robert Tyynismaa ran together for much of the race, but Ellenbecker finished four spots ahead of his sophomore teammate. Ellenbecker placed 56th in a field of 134 runners, with a time of 17:49 on the 5-kilometer course. Tyynismaa finished 60th in a time of 18:02.
As a team, the Trojans finished 16th out of 20 teams, some of which are among the state's best. Rounding out the varsity team was junior Surrell Youngbear (89, 19:10), junior Luis Perez (107, 19:54), senior James Norton (110, 19:57) and junior Taylen Anderson (124, 21:25).
On the girls' side, South Tama placed 15th out of 19 teams. Senior Kelsey Kupka once again led the Trojans as she finished the 4-kilometer race 58th in a time of 17:26. Junior Taylor Ellenbecker placed 71st, running 18:11. The other varsity runners included junior Regina Balderas (87, 19:22), junior Erin Filloon (99, 20:11), senior Natasha Musgrave (112, 21:37) and senior Grace Kavalier (114, 22:02).
In the 9-10 boys race, STC freshman Blake Keller placed 10th in a time of 18:34. He was one of many Trojans who ran faster Thursday than they did at the first Marshalltown meet. Kuhter said the average was about 1:30 for the team as some runners improved by a couple minutes and others just seconds.
"They ran really well for the quality of the field," Kuhter said. "You have to consider who they were running against, too.
"We didn't have any JV runners," he added. "If we throw a couple freshman and sophomores in with the varsity, things would have gone well."
South Tama hosted its home meet on Monday. The results will be in Friday's Tama News-Herald. On Saturday, STC will travel to BCLUW for a meet.
"Our home meet is going to be a good test for us," Kuhter said. "We will be competing against Marshalltown and Grinnell. We will see Grinnell for the next two meets and we'll be able to gauge ourselves to see how we're doing. We'll see them later in the year, so we have a good gauge of some pretty good teams. If we can close the gap on those good teams, we'll be in good shape."