South Tama's cross country teams continue to improve and Monday's home meet was another sign in the right direction.
The Trojans hosted a meet at Otter Creek Lake Park and came away with one individual victory, four top-10 runners and a top-three team finish. It was the Trojans fourth meet of the season and third in seven days, but coach George Kuhter was happy after the meet.
"This was the best race we ran all year long, and that goes for our boys and our girls," coach George Kuhter said. "It's a tough course so the times won't reflect it.
South Tama freshman Blake Keller easily won the junior varsity boys race at the Trojans' home meet Monday at Otter Creek Lake Park. Keller's 5-kilometer time was 19:31.
"I like the course because it has hills at the beginning, so you can separate yourself early," he said. "Kelsey (Kupka) did a good job of separating herself from everyone else. You have to know how to run the course. You can't walk up to that course as a freshman and do well."
The varsity girls led South Tama with the best team finish. The Trojans placed third out of eight teams at the home meet. They scored 90 points to edge out Marshalltown (97), who didn't run its full squad, and East Marshall (99). Grinnell won the meet with 37 points, while Vinton-Shellsburg finished runner-up with a score of 72.
Senior Kelsey Kupka led the Trojans with a 10th-place finish. She finished the 4-kilometer course in a time 17:48.
Team Standings - 1. Grinnell 55, 2. Marshalltown 64, 3. Vinton-Shellsburg 67, 4. East Marshall 85, 5. West Marshall 113, 6. South Tama County, 115, 7. Belle Plaine 182, 8. GMG 224.
Individual (top 10) - 1. Zach Wells, MHS, 17:49; 3. Ricky Jerav, V-S, 18:03; 3. Jordan Evans, V-S, 18:03; 4. Ben Terrones, EM, 18:04; 5. Luc Moisan, GRN, 18:06; 6. Nathan Bradley, WM, 18:11; 7. Joel Baumann, GRN, 18:15; 8. Daniel Talbert, MHS, 18:20; 9. Brady Ellenbecker, 18:28; 10. Robert Tyynismaa, STC, 18:29.
Marshalltown (64) - 1. Zach Wells, 17:49; 8. Daniel Talbert, 18:20; 17. Sam Johnson, 19:02; 18. Nathan Phillips, 19:09; 20. Trae Peterson, 19:12.
East Marshall (85) - 4. Ben Terrones, 18:04; 15. Nick Moorehead, 18:50; 21. Rob Petrie, 19:19; 22. Drew Schossow, 19:21; 24. Seth Webb, 19:30.
West Marshall (113) - 6. Nathan Bradley, 18:11; 11. Austin McCool, 18:33; 23. Cole White, 19:27; 37. Trenton Keislar, 20:36; 38. Hunter Wilkening, 20:37.
South Tama (115) - 9. Brady Ellenbecker, 18:28; 10. Robert Tyynismaa, 18:29; 31. Surrell Youngbear, 20:00; 32. Luis Perez, 20:07; 33. James Norton, 20:10.
GMG (224) - 43. Jeff Hughes, 21:51; 44. Josh Raymond, 22:18; 46. Logan Burt, 22:25; 48. Matthew Mengler, 22:41; 49. Dillon Slingluff, 22:55.
Meskwaki - 45. Mark Youngbear, 22:23; 61. Josh Papakee, 26:05.
North Tama - 56. Robert Young, 24:13
Team Standings - 1. Grinnell 37; 2. Vinton-Shellsburg 72, 3. South Tama County 90, 4. Marshalltown 97, 5. East Marshall 99, 6. North Tama 157, 7. West Marshall 157, 8. Belle Plaine 203.
Individual (top 10) - 1. Lily Horst, V-S, 16:30; 2. Olivia Gallo, GRN, 16:47; 3. Bristi Gerber, V-S, 16:56; 4. Abi Watson, NT, 17:03; 5. Victoria Pothast, WM, 17:23; 6. Haley Fye, EM, 17:29; 7. Malia Durr, GRN, 17:37; 8. Baylee Kivett, GRN, 17:37; 9. Morgan Finch, GRN, 17:47; 10. Kelsey Kupka, STC, 17:48.
South Tama (90) - 10. Kupka, 17:48; 14. Taylor Ellenbecker, 18:40; 16. Naomi Hoskey, 19:08; 22. Regina Balderas, 19:39; 32. Erin Filloon, 20:36.
Marshalltown (97) - 13. Victoria Jones, 18:21; 17. Abby Snyder, 19:08; 18. Ellyn Boland, 19:17; 24. Lily Larsen, 19:49; 30. Abigail Saucedo, 20:32.
East Marshall (99) - 6. Haley Fye, 17:29; 12. Kristen Amendt, 18:06; 19. Allie Roberts, 19:21; 26. Paige Flugge, 20:02; 40. Kaylee Howe, 21:18.
North Tama (157) - 4. Abi Watson, 17:03; 28. Jamie Huntley, 20:08; 37. Brandi Anne Daub, 20:47; 50. Jordyn TeBeest, 23:02; 52. Alexis Taylor, 23:48.
West Marshall (157) - 5. Victoria Pothast, 17:23; 38. Rachel Knights, 21:03; 39. Maggie Sodders, 21:14; 41. Ashley Pfantz, 21:44; 42. Carly Kielman, 21:44.
GMG - 47. Codi Groth, 22:27; 49. Allison Stegmann, 22:38.
Meskwaki - 53. Amara Powell, 23:52.
"It was fun," Kupka said. "It went fast. I like this one, because it's one big loop and you're done. There are a few big hills, but other than that, it goes by really fast. It's also nice to have lots of people cheering us on."
Following Kupka was junior Taylor Ellenbecker and sophomore Naomi Hoskey, who placed 14th and 16th, respectively. Junior Regina Balderas (22nd), junior Erin Filloon (32nd) and senior Natasha Musgrave (43rd) rounded out the STC varsity girls.
"They packed themselves together," Kuhter said. "Naomi and Regina ran together and then Naomi ran away from Regina. Kelsey also ran away from Taylor. I've been preaching to them that they need to get closer to the front and when they do that, we're going to score well. We had four girls in the top 22. I know Marshalltown didn't have their top three runners for various reasons, but any time you beat a 4A school, you feel good."
A pair of South Tama sophomores, who ran the junior varsity race, ran fast enough to break into the varsity line-up Monday. Diahana Puentes placed 14th in a time of 20:30, while Ericka Dunning finished 28th in a time of 21:43. Senior Grace Kavalier (30th), junior Brittany Bear (43rd) and freshman Sacorro Mendoza (44th) also ran in the JV race. STC finished third as a team in the race.
"We'd have a better team score," Kuhter said of adding the top JV runners to the varsity race. "I'd like to keep the girls hidden for a while, because we'll sneak up on some people. Right now, a top three finish at conference isn't out of the question. I want the seniors to have a good last year."
On the boys' side, South Tama finished sixth out of eight teams in the varsity race. STC scored 115 and was narrowly edged out by West Marshall, who scored 113 as a team. Grinnell won the meet with 55 points, as Marshalltown (64) and Vinton-Shellsburg (67) placed second and third.
South Tama was led by a pair of top-10 finishes. Senior Brady Ellenbecker and sophomore Robert Tyynismaa placed ninth and 10th, running 18:28 and 18:29.
Junior Surrell Youngbear, junior Luis Perez and senior James Norton ran together for much of the race. They finished the same way, placing 31st, 32nd and 33rd. Junior Taylen Anderson also placed 51st for STC.
"The boys, I wish they would have run better," Kuhter said. "West Marshall sort of snuck up on us. East Marshall sort of ran away from us, but they have a good team. We just have to step up and that's all there is to it. We can run with them, but we have to decide if we are going to do it."
South Tama freshman Blake Keller won the JV boys race by 20 seconds. His time of 19:31 would have made him third on the varsity roster. He took the lead early in the race and never looked back en route to victory.
"Blake ran well," Kuhter said. "He ran a good race. He's kind of out grown his competition and you could tell last night. At one point, he had a 45-second lead. Then he got a little tired. We need him to run aggressive and get up near Brady and Robert if we have any chance of doing really well."
The Trojans will be competing Saturday at BCLUW. The meet starts at 9:30 a.m. They will also be traveling to Vinton-Shellsburg on Tuesday and that meet starts at 4:30 p.m.