After a solid meet at BCLUW, South Tama's cross country teams had another strong showing last week at Vinton-Shellsburg.
Both STC teams finished in the top five of the varsity standings. The boys' squad placed fourth out of eight teams, while the girls team finished fifth out of nine teams at the meet.
"We ran very well today at Vinton," coach George Kuhter said. "We have been working on running together this week and this meet shows how much we are improving. Our lack of summer training can no longer be an excuse. We have to perform every time we run."
The South Tama boys' team had its top three runners finish in the top 13. Senior Brady Ellenbecker and Robert Tyynismaa crossed the finish line at the same time as they both finished the 5-kilometer course in 17:49. They placed ninth and tenth in the race. Freshman Blake Keller followed closely behind in 13th place in a time of 18:16.
Sophomore Surrell Youngbear was the next Trojan to finish. He placed 28th. Behind him were junior Luis Perez (35th), senior James Norton (36th) and junior Taylen Anderson (45th).
Vinton-Shellsburg won the boys meet with 33 points. Marion (73) and Benton Community (89) finished ahead of South Tama.
"Our boys had kind of a let down from BCLUW by finishing behind Benton, who we had beat, but our 4-6 guys are going to have to step up and get faster," Kuhter said. "Homecoming has a lot to do with it, but our top three are in the top 15 and then we have numbers 4-6 in the 20s and 30s. We will fix that and fix it soon. In our conference, it goes down to how many guys you can get in the top 25 and how fast you are from one through five. We have to get better in the next three weeks."
On the girls' side, Benton Community won the meet with 55 team points. Ahead of South Tama (who placed fifth with 91 points) was Vinton-Shellsburg (69), Marion (75) and West Delaware (90).
Senior Kelsey Kupka and junior Taylor Ellenbecker both placed in the top 10 individually. Kupka finished sixth, running the 4-kilometer course in a time of 17:13, while Ellenbecker placed eighth as she ran 17:54. Rounding out the STC lineup was sophomore Diahana Puentes (20th), junior Regina Balderas (23rd) and junior Erin Filloon (34th).
"Besides the consistency of Gina, Kelsey and Erin, we have to find two or three other runners that are going to figure it out and run faster," Kuhter said. "I think we have Taylor Ellenbecker over her problem and if we can keep Naomi (Hoskey) healthy like she was last week, we should be good but if not, we may be on the outside looking in. I don't think these girls are going to be satisfied with a fifth place conference finish again this year. We all know we are better than that."
Five STC girls ran in the junior varsity race. They were senior Natasha Musgrave (20th), senior Grace Kavalier (21st), sophomore Ericka Dunning (24th), junior Brittany Bear (26th) and freshman Sacorro Mendoza ( 30th).
In the JV boys race, STC had four runners. Leading the way was junior Jake Theissen, who placed 20th. Following him were sophomore Britton Waldo (36th), sophomore Kade Steuhm (37th) and freshman Andrew Kajer (39th).
South Tama competed at Nevada on Monday. Those results will be found in Friday's edition of the Tama News-Herald.