WEBSTER CITY - Running their best when it matters the most is the mantra that Webster City cross country coach Tony Bussan instills in all of his pupils.
Well, there's only one meet that matters more than this.
Always the motivator, Bussan is out to have his athletes in peak condition for Thursday's Class 3A State Qualifying Meet at the Spencer Municipal Golf Course in Spencer. The gun for the girls' 4-kilometer race will fire at 4 p.m., followed by the boys' 5K at 4:30 p.m.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Seniors Ethan Glenn (370), Jacob Clabaugh (364) and Steven Smith (background on left) set the pace for the Webster City boys’ cross country team at the Lynx Invite back in August. They’ll be called upon to serve as leaders again on Thursday during the Class 3A State Qualifying Meet at the Spencer Municipal Golf Course.
The top three teams and top 10 individuals will all qualify for the state meet, which will again be held at Lakeside Golf Course on the outskirts of Fort Dodge on Saturday, Oct. 27.
The Webster City boys - Ethan Glenn, Nick Thilges, Steven Smith, Jacob Clabaugh, Kenton Johnston, Nick Olmstead and Ryan Heinrichs - will try to qualify for their second straight state meet; the Lynx were 15th a season ago, and they feel they have the goods to punch their ticket again.
"There are a number of (boys) teams with opportunities and we'd like to believe that we are in that mix," Bussan said. "In recent years sometimes we've gone into (state qualifying) meets saying we've got to come up with something a little bit beyond what we've done at this point, but this year, if we run the way we did (at the North Central Conference meet), we're going to have a heck of a shot."
What - Class 3A State Qualifying Meet
When - Thursday, 4 p.m.
Where - Spencer Municipal Golf Course, Spencer
The field - Algona, Sioux City Heelan, Clear Lake, Denison-Schleswig, Estherville-Lincoln Central (girls only), Garner-Hayfield, Humboldt, LeMars, MOC-Floyd Valley, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Storm Lake, Spencer, Webster City.
Ranked teams - Girls: 3. Sioux City Heelan; 10. MOC-Floyd Valley; 11. Spencer. Boys: 2. Sioux City Heelan.
Ranked individuals - Girls: 4. Kenzie Theisen (So.), LeMars; 8. Bethany Dykstra (Jr.), MOC-Floyd Valley; 13. Cierra Guerrero (Jr.), Spencer; 16. Samantha Larson (Jr.), Humboldt; 25. Kamille Kronemann (Sr.), Garner-Hayfield; 28. Lindsay Joyce (Jr.), Sioux City Heelan. Boys: 5. Alec DeVries (Sr.), Sioux City Heelan; 7. Alec Pavone (So.), Sioux City Heelan; 8. Tommy Theisen (Sr.), Sioux City Heelan; 10. Michael Heffernen (Sr.), Sioux City Heelan; 18. Ryan Bauermeister (Jr.), Spencer; 21. Cole McAllister (Jr.), MOC-Floyd Valley.
WCHS was second to Algona by three points at the NCC meet. The Bulldogs will also be in Thursday's field.
Second-ranked Sioux City Heelan is the prohibitive favorite with four individuals ranked among the top 10 in the state. Senior Alec DeVries is No. 5 to lead the group.
But don't expect the Lynx to lay down and accept defeat.
"Heelan is very good, but it's not like they're unbeatable," Bussan said.
WCHS doesn't possess a premier individual that will challenge for the gold, but few teams in the field can match the Lynx depth. Pack running brought them to where they are, and Bussan says that will have to be the case again on Thursday.
"The advantage that we have is if it comes down to a tiebreaker, we run as solid a pack or a better pack than those other teams," Bussan said. "So it's absolutely critical that we not gap. It's extremely important for our top four to have great races, and if they run to form and we have narrow gaps, then we're going to have a great shot."
The task is even more difficult for the WCHS girls' squad, which will face a field that includes third-ranked Heelan, 10th-ranked MOC-Floyd Valley, 11th-ranked Spencer and NCC champion Algona.
"There are a number of really good teams on the girls side," Bussan said. "We'll have to run the best race we have all year to be in the mix."
Senior Morgan Moline will look to continue her late-season surge. She set a school record last week at the conference meet, and Bussan says she may have to do even more to land in the top 10 on Thursday.
"Morgan will need to run the race she ran at conference or better because it's a loaded field," Bussan said. "She could potentially set a new school record and still not make it, that's how good this field is."
There are six ranked individuals in the girls' field, highlighted by No. 4-ranked sophomore Kenzie Theisen of LeMars. NCC runner-up Tangy Wiseman of Algona is also among the favorites to fill a top 10 slot.
Joining Morgan Moline in the Lynx lineup will be Allie Flaws, Courtney Biere, Cassidy Bultena, Gina Moline, Faith McClain and Morgan Shannon.
"If Morgan runs a great race like she did at conference, and then if we can have no more than a 30-second gap behind her rather than a minute, we'll take what that gets us," Bussan said.