Oct. 31—FORT DODGE — Lynnville-Sully juniors Olivia Norrish and Hendrick Lowry and freshman Colton Alberts each expected to perform better at the Class 1A state cross country meet on Friday.
While none of the Haws posted season-best times, all three ran one of their four best times of the year and each of them has a chance to get back to Fort Dodge next season.
"It's always an honor and a privilege to have athletes competing at the state meet," L-S head cross country coach Darin Arkema said. "I never take for granted all the work and effort they have put into reaching this accomplishment."
Norrish was making her second trip to the state meet at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
She was disappointed in her performance, but competing on the coldest day of the season did not help anyone's performance.
Temperatures in the 1A race dipped below 40 degrees and the strong winds hampered the competitors.
"Well, it was not as exciting as I wanted it to be. I didn't finish as well as I wanted," Norrish said. "I would have rather it been warmer today because we raced in warm weather all year. The cold weather came out of nowhere, and it's kind of hard with the wind.
"If you are in the front of a pack you take in all the wind. And in the second half of the race, I was not behind anyone."
Norrish finished 79th in the 1A girls' 5K race. Her time of 21 minutes, 18.8 seconds was her fourth-best mark of the season.
It also wasn't far off her time when she took 57th at last year's state meet, and she went under 22 minutes for the fifth time this fall.
"I know she was disappointed to not be faster than last year's race or to have placed higher," Arkema said. "That doesn't at all mean she raced poorly.
"I shared with her that she raced tough and we can discuss and evaluate this last week or two of preparation and what needs to take place to be back at state and faster next season."
Lowry and Alberts were running at the state meet for the first time. Lowry placed 69th in the boys' race with a time of 17:55.8 and Alberts placed 109th in 18:38.6.
Those were the third-best times of the season for both Hawk runners. Lowry went under 18 minutes for the fourth time this fall and Alberts was faster than 19 minutes for the third time.
"Hendrick and Colton wanted to make sure they weren't out too fast because of the adrenaline and crowd so I was happy to see their start and positioning through the first half mile," Arkema said. "But they also commented about how tight, numb and cold they felt as the race went on. While both of them made good surges and use of the small ups and downs on the course in mile two, they really weren't able to make up ground on the competition."
Lowry was surprised by his time. He felt like he was going hard the whole time and expected his finish to be where he was at districts.
"It's a way different environment and this was the first cold race of the year," Lowry said. "I have never run in anything like this. It was really cool. It wasn't a slow time or anything, but I thought it would be a similar time to districts."
Alberts was expecting to be better, too. He was affected by the sudden temperature change and underestimated the number of competitors running around the course.
"It was an amazing experience," Alberts said. "It's nothing like anything I have experienced before. It was really beautiful to see everyone come and cheer me on."
All three Hawks were conscious about their starts. None of them wanted to get out too fast. Norrish and Alberts both admitted to getting boxed in.
"I always get out too fast so that helped me maintain a steady pace," Norrish said. "The weather affected me more. My arms felt heavy."
There were 61 girls in the 1A race who posted times faster than 21 minutes and 18 who got under 20. The 15th and final medal winner turned in a time of 19:44.7.
Second-ranked and two-time defending champion Noelle Steines of Calamus-Wheatland won the race in 18:22.
Top-ranked Meghan Wheatley of North Linn was the runner-up in 18:35.6.
Steines and Wheatley were either first or second for the entire race. The Madrid girls won the team championship with 97 points.
The focus of the Hawk trio before the race was discussing what it would take for the entire team to make it next season.
"They all want to see us make state as a team, and yes make it back as a qualifier individually too, but their focus was the team," Arkema said. "So we talked about the need for getting more to join the program, especially on the girls' side, along with the work it's going to need to take from everyone to make that happen."
There were 72 male runners who finished in under 18 minutes and 23 went under 17. The 15th and final medal winner posted a time of 16:36.
Top-ranked Landon Bendgen of Woodbine won his second straight 1A state title. He was clocked in 15:55.3.
Second-ranked Emerson Vokes of Grundy Center was the runner-up in 16:02.5. Lake Mills won the boys' 1A team title with 111 points.
"I just tried to get the next guy then the next guy then the next guy," Lowry said about his approach during the race. "Hopefully I can get sub-17 next year. I will be training all summer."
Next year was a popular statement among all three Hawks. They all plan on training hard in the offseason and returning to Fort Dodge next fall.
"I will be pretty motivated for next year. I would love to come back and maybe do better next time," Alberts said. "I got pinned in at the very back so I need to get a better start. I kind of sped up when I wasn't supposed to. I need to fix that, too."
Norrish will seek her third trip to state next season and could bring with her a few teammates who were close to the top-10 cutoff at regionals this season.
"Next year, I would like to get under 20 minutes and get back here and be more competitive here," Norrish said. 'It will take a lot of summer miles."
Notes: Arkema tried to prepare the L-S runners for the predicted weather change, but it was tough to simulate it when the practices leading up to Friday's state race were in the 60s and 70s. "There just wasn't any good way to simulate how drastic of a change it was going to be, but I also made sure they understood the weather was out of our control and something every competitor was going to have to deal with. It was about mindset, attitude, preparation with clothing needs and proper race warm-up, which are all things we can control."