ALGONA - Mental toughness. Perseverance. Resolve. Determination.
Name the adjective and there's a good chance Morgan Moline fits the bill.
Summers sweating through mile after mile, and falls spent riding the roller coaster of emotions that saddle up to strong and weak performances came to a head for the Webster City senior here yesterday, and the pay off was monstrous.
Moline shattered the 4-kilometer school record and earned her second all-conference medal at the North Central Conference cross country meet on the layout at River Road Golf Course. Her clocking of 15 minutes, 34.47 seconds - good enough for fifth place - smoked the old mark of 15:46, set by Kelsey Tompkins at Pine Lake in Eldora in 2005.
"I haven't stopped smiling yet," Moline said some two hours after she completed the race. "Before the race I just kept telling myself that I was going to do it and that I was going to have fun, and I did."
Moline led Webster City to a somewhat surprising runner-up finish behind pre-meet favorite Algona, which celebrated on its home course after compiling 58 points. The Lynx finished with 84, four points ahead of bronze medalist Clear Lake (88). Algona Bishop Garrigan (110) and Iowa Falls-Alden (140) completed the top five.
1. Algona 58; 2. Webster City 84; 3. Clear Lake 88; 4. Algona Bishop Garrigan 110; 5. Iowa Falls-Alden 140; 6. Eagle Grove 151; 7. Humboldt 152; 8. Hampton-Dumont 153; 9. Fort Dodge St. Edmond 167.
Individual All-NCC (top 10)
1. Tiffany Christensen (EG) 14:57.25; 2. Tangy Wiseman (A) 15:03.45; 3. Samantha Larson (H) 15:09.04; 4. Erin Reedy (BG) 15:20.11; 5. Morgan Moline (WC) 15:34.47; 6. Paige Yi (A) 15:56.44; 7. Sierra Greiman (CL) 15:57.28; 8. Taylor Hauser (CL) 16:03.37; 9. Carissa Pityer (A) 16:06.96; 10. Trudy Peterson (CL) 16;08.43.
Other Webster City Results
18. Allie Flaws 16:56.66; 19. Gina Moline 17:00.53; 20. Courtney Biere 17:02.07; 22. Cassidy Bultena 17:09.37; 28. Faith McClain 17:26.36; 57. Brenna Paukert 18:38.14.
All five of Webster City's scorers placed among the top 22, which was essential to team success, according to head coach Tony Bussan.
"That's the best team racing we've had all year, and we had to do that because of the way Clear Lake ran," Bussan said. "Being the runner-up in the North Central Conference is nothing to sneeze at."
Freshmen Allie Flaws, Courtney Biere and Cassidy Bultena packed around teammate Gina Moline to give WCHS a wave of gold and purple crashing the party within 13 seconds of one another.
Allie Flaws led the group in 18th in 16:56.66. Gina Moline (17:00.53), Morgan's younger sister, was right behind her in 19th. Biere (17:02.07) made it three in a row in 20th, and Bultena (17:09.37) placed 22nd.
"I'm so happy with how we did as a team," Morgan Moline said. "We haven't been on the podium forever, so I'm proud of the little freshmen ... it's just awesome."
But the post-race notoriety wouldn't have been possible without Morgan Moline raising her game to a new level. Think about it: She ran 18:16 at the Lynx Invite in late August, and just last month she turned in a 17:21 at the Ballard Invite in Huxley.
And then she'd simply had enough.
"In the beginning of the season I kind of over-trained and that prevented me from starting off on a really good note," she said. "But once I figured that out I just took off."
Moline's resurgence actually started at River Road Golf Course; she put up a 16:16 during the Algona Invite back on Sept. 24, and her times have continued to drop since.
"Morgan has an undying willingness to improve and she never gives in," Bussan said. "She's risen to a new level of mental toughness, too."
Moline went out with the lead pack yesterday and never wavered. She moved from sixth to fifth at the mile mark and never gave an inch the rest of the way.
"She was just rolling, the best I've ever seen," Bussan said. "She wants to run at the collegiate level and she looked like a collegiate runner (yesterday). It was everything you would hope to see a senior have in her final conference meet."
Moline knew Tompkins' record was within reach with a solid outing, but to beat it by 12 seconds? That impressed even her.
"I've been looking at Kelsey's time for two weeks now," she said. "I just thought it would be really cool to get that record."
Algona had three top-10 finishers, keyed by the silver-medal run of Tangy Wiseman (15:03.45). Eagle Grove junior Tiffany Christensen defended her individual title in 14:57.25.
WCHS had the junior varsity champion; Morgan Shannon (17:30) topped the competition, and three of her teammates also placed in the top seven.