WEBSTER CITY - All of the usual suspects will converge on the Webster City Links this afternoon for the annual Lynx Cross Country Invitational.
The field will be virtually identical to previous years; joining Webster City will be Algona, Belmond-Klemme, Boone, Clarion-Goldfield, Eagle Grove, Fort Dodge Senior, Fort Dodge St. Edmond, Hampton-Dumont, Humboldt, Manson-Northwest Webster, Southeast Valley and Roland-Story.
Competition will get underway at 5 p.m. with the girls' junior varsity race. The girls' varsity race will be up next, followed by the boys' varsity and boys' JV battles. The gun will go off every half hour.
There will be a parking fee of $5 per car.
Webster City's runners got an up close and personal look at the course last Thursday when they used it for their final time trial. Head coach Tony Bussan says most of his athletes showed significant improvement from a season ago and he enters today's meet optimistic.
"It's very encouraging. On the boys side we've got very good depth this year," Bussan said. "If you plug our guys' trial times into last year's (Lynx Invite), we score 70 less points.
"We had a lot of girls that looked really good in the time trial, too. We've still got quite a ways to go, but this gives us a chance to get a starting point."
Competing for the WCHS varsity boys will be Cole Zahn, Jacob Perin, Tyler Bultena, Trey Nelson, Seth Crouthamel, Connor Foster and Demar Lemus.
The varsity girls will go with Larae Ebrecht, Courtney Biere, Ashley Flaws, Haley Johnson, Cassidy Bultena, Haley Flaws and Sarah Paukert.
Zahn and Perin should give the Lynx a solid foundation and Bussan hopes the rest of his runners can stick close enough in a pack to give WCHS a chance to compete in the team race.
"Cole and Jacob are pretty solid our top two," Bussan said. "But we are running a pretty tight-knit pack as a whole group. Our goal will be to put a couple guys battling for the top 10 or 15 and then bring the rest of our pack in the top 25 and see what that does for us."
Algona (Class 3A No. 3), Boone (3A No. 10) and St. Edmond (1A No. 12) highlight the boys' field, and Eagle Grove is coming off a team victory at Thursday's Gilbert Early Bird in Ames.
On the girls side, Humboldt (3A No. 8) and Roland-Story (2A No. 11) are in the rankings.
"The Algona boys are the prohibitive favorite," Bussan said. "Everyone regards them as one of the top two or three teams in our class in the state. For the girls, Humboldt lost Sam Larson (to graduation), but they still bring back everyone else and they should be very good."
Ebrecht and Biere established themselves as the Lynx front runners during the time trail.
"They were the clear leaders and both of them in the time trial ran significantly faster than they did at the Lynx Invite a year ago," Bussan said. "Larae put in a big summer and she has very high goals, so it's really nice to see the hard work pay off."