Crestwood harrier teams revel in impressive 2018 season

CRESCO - Battling against stout competition, challenging courses and less than ideal weather at times this year, the Crestwood girls’ and boys’ cross country teams time and again displayed their strength and mettle throughout the 2018 season.
The Cadet girls’ squad grabbed first place at the Class 2A State Qualifier Meet for the second straight season. At the State Meet, the girls’ team finished ninth overall, which included a third place finish by Cassidy Ihns and a 15th place finish by Hope Dohlman.
The Crestwood boys’ team had two individuals qualify for the State Meet. Bryden Juelsgaard finished 49th at State and Justin Nibaur took 86th place at State. As a team, the Cadet boys finished fifth at the State Qualifier.
The Crestwood girls’ team featured 17 total runners. Seniors included: Hope Dohlman, Cassidy Ihns, Sarah Mashek, Annie Mast and Emily Reinhart.
Junior girls included: Katlin Born, Madison Brace, Libby Labosky, Isabella Lehmkuhl, Cameron Ollendick, Krista Riley, Rachel Steffen and Kelsey Stortz.
Underclassmen included: Jayden Ruroden, sophomore; Kyleigh Foster, freshman; Dylan Rahlf, freshman; and Kendal Slavin, freshman.
The Cadet boys’ team featured 28 total harriers. The seniors included: Jacob Andera, Colter Bye, Boston Ferrie, Luis Lares, Nathan Martinek, Blake Murphy, Kyle Quam, Jon Millage, Eric Trautsch, Cade Wenthold and Kendall Cotant.
Junior boys included: Tyrone Grant, Bryden Juelsgaard, Daniel Lares, Lucas McGee, David Meinecke, Caleb Shea, Matthew Slifka and Mason Theis.
Underclassmen on the boys’ team included: Justin Nibaur, sophomore; Nathaniel Bigalk, sophomore; Jeremy Andera, freshman; Hunter Bye, freshman; Nick Dietzenbach, freshman; Ethan Govern, freshman; Caleb Kammerer, freshman; Ethan Mast, freshman; and Garrett Wenthold, freshman.
Girls’ season
Cadet Head Coach Jim Obermann was thrilled to see the girls’ squad perform well during the 2018 season.
“This was an excellent season for our girls’ team,” Obermann noted. “Coming into the year, we had some heavy graduation losses, but we knew we could be a good team (in 2018). 
“Just how good we could be, I wasn’t sure. But I thought we could be solid because of all the work the girls did during the off-season. We offer the kids the opportunity to participate in the summer running program. We had great participation from the girls and boys,” the coach said.
Obermann said he knew the depth on the girls’ team might not be as good as previous seasons to start the year.
“However, our depth on the girls’ team developed as the season went on,” the coach said. “This was a terrific year, and all the girls really deserve credit for working so hard during the off-season as well as during the season.”
The coach noted that the injury bug reared its head this fall.
“Rachel Steffen had an injury after the first meet,” Obermann said. “She wasn’t able to put any miles in during almost the first month of the season. Rachel did work her way back, but it’s hard to get back (to 100 percent) after missing so much time. I give her a lot of credit for fighting back to get into competition (running) form.
“I’m really proud of the work all the girls put in to make themselves even better than they were last season. Across the board, all of the girls improved themselves. We compare times from this year to last year. From the top down, the girls had much better performances than they did last year.
“Without question, Cassidy Ihns improved herself. That started during the track season and throughout the summer. She really got stronger, and she put in a lot of miles. She is simply one of the best distance runners in the state. For her to have the year she had, it is well-deserved.
“Cassidy was a Northeast Iowa Conference champ, a State Qualifier champ and at State, she was beaten by two runners who were defending State champions. I’m really happy for Cassidy because she worked hard to achieve what she did. She put her name in the record books for Cadet runners,” Obermann said.
The coach also praised senior Hope Dohlman, who competed in her fourth State Meet this fall and was also a four-time All-NEIC runner.
“Hope has had some tremendous accomplishments,” Obermann said. “She has been the heart and soul of our team for many years. What Hope brings (to the team) is a hard work ethic and great leadership. 
“All of the girls worked well together, and they were a unified group. They deserve credit for setting their goals high,” the coach said.
He added that the team had many girls who showed solid leadership.
“Annie Mast showed tremendous improvement from last year to this year,” Obermann said. “Last year she ran on the JV team, but this year, she was our number three girl on the varsity all year. She’s a tough competitor.
“Sarah Mashek got better every year in cross country, which was the result of her hard work. Emily Reinhart was our other senior who stayed healthy this year, which was great to see,” Obermann said.
He gave kudos to the seniors for showing the commitment to improve themselves.
“(The 2018 seniors) wanted to prove that they could be a good team, and they certainly did that,” Obermann said. “I don’t think a lot of people would have thought we could come back this season and win the State Qualifier again and perform even better at the conference meet.
“We also had a strong showing at the State Meet. Last year, if you would have told us that we’d finish ninth at State this year, we would have been overjoyed. Our success was a result of the girls believing in each other and themselves,” Obermann said.
The coach gave kudos to the young runners on the team.
“Libby Labosky had an outstanding year,” Obermann said. “Along with Libby, Madison Brace, Rachel Steffen and Kelsey Stortz all put in a lot of running time over the summer. Cross country is a sport where if you put in the time, you’ll see improvement. I’m proud to see all the girls have the year that they did.
“All the accomplishments the girls had was during a year where the weather was challenging and we had to make adjustments to the schedule. All the girls handled that well. 
“We had a very close-knit group, and they really were a family. Because of that, the older girls did a great job of helping the younger runners. We had a ninth grader (Kendal Slavin) who ran with the varsity throughout the year. She is a super young lady, and it was easy for her to mix in with the older girls. 
“All the accolades that all the girls earned were well-deserved. You always want your kids to get the most out of their abilities, and this group really did that,” Obermann said.
The coach noted going to State as a team for two straight years is a big feat. The last time the girls’ team qualified in consecutive years was from 1987 to 1990.
Boys’ season
The coach said he was excited to have several letterwinners returning for the boys’ squad.
“We knew we would have a good group of young men to build the team around (going into the season),” Obermann said. “Overall, we had a solid year. Coming into the season, I knew we would have the talent to fight for a State team berth. We had two returning State Qualifiers from 2017 coming back in Nathan Martinek and Bryden Juelsgaard.
“In addition to those strengths, we had the highest number of boys out for the team (28) in all the years that I’ve been here. We also knew our competition during meets would be tough.
“As the season went on, our boys’ team improved. We had a lot of bright spots. In addition to our returning runners, we had a lot of guys step up and get better. I was impressed with what Justin Nibaur did this season. He worked hard during the off-season to become a strong varsity runner, and he was one of our top runners all year.
“Bryden Juelsgaard did a lot of work in the summer, and he was also one of our top runners for the boys’ team. It was not surprising that both Justin and Bryden represented the boys at the State Meet because they put in the work.
“Nathan Martinek had a solid year. Once again, he was an All-Conference runner. It was good to see Nathan run healthy this year after missing most of the 2017 season because of mono. Even though he didn’t make it to State this year, I was proud to see him have a good year.
“As a group, our boys ran well at the Northeast Iowa Conference Meet to place fourth against really good competition. The boys had a solid State Qualifier Meet where they finished fifth. We’re knocking on the door (in terms of qualifying for State as a team).
“We will graduate a lot of seniors (11) from this year’s team, so we’ll have many holes to fill next year. We’re confident about our kids coming back. It’s unique to have 11 seniors out for cross country, and I appreciated having that many guys out for the team.
“In addition to our varsity teams, our Junior Varsity teams were also very competitive. Our JV teams finished near the top in most meets, which is a sign of strength of the program,” Obermann said.
The coach is optimistic about the future.
“We’ll have a lot of strong runners back next year,” Obermann said. “Our two State Qualifiers this year, Bryden and Justin, are underclassmen. We also have other solid runners, such as Ethan Govern had a terrific year as a freshman. By the end of the year, he was one of our strongest runners. Bryden, Justin and Ethan will give us a solid nucleus to build around for next year.
“We will also have many other juniors, sophomores and freshmen who will take another step forward for us. Some guys will need to put in more miles during the off-season to reach their peak during the season. One of our goals for our boys’ team is to get to State as a team.
“We are at the point with our program where we want to finish strong every year at the conference meet, and we want to fight for one of those team positions at the State Meet. Every team needs to replace graduated seniors, but I think we’ve got the people in our program that can get to the next level with enough hard work during the off-season and the regular season,” Obermann said.
Obermann said that he, Assistant Coach Karen Steffen and Junior High Coach Rich Wicks always try to recruit new runners.
“Cross country is a sport where we always recruit runners because you don’t always get kids in junior high out for the sport in high school,” Obermann said. “Some kids wait until they get to high school before they go out for cross country. Cross country is a great sport because everyone gets an opportunity to compete.
“The coaches and the athletes really appreciate the parents and the fans who come to meets. We also are thankful for the support the kids get from the parents at home. I also want to thank Coach Karen Steffen and (Junior High) Coach Rich Wicks for all they do,” Obermann said.

Cresco Times

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