Bultena with nothing to lose at state XC

WEBSTER CITY – The atmosphere will all be new for Webster City junior Tyler Bultena on Saturday when he represents the Lynx program at the state cross country meet.

But what won’t be new are his surroundings, and that could work to his advantage.

Following a career-best 5K time of 17:03 at last week’s Class 3A state qualifier in Spencer, Bultena will return to the familiar stomping grounds of Lakeside Golf Course inside Kennedy Park on the outskirts of Fort Dodge. The boys’ 3A race will be the fourth of the day and is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.

Bultena has run the course three times during his prep career, twice at the Fort Dodge Invite as a freshman and sophomore, and once for the North Central Conference meet that was hosted by St. Edmond during the 2015 campaign.

“I think that will help,” Bultena said of his familiarity with the course. “I’m experienced there and I know when to lay off, when to go and when to push. It’s one of my favorite courses because there’s everything there.”

His fastest time on the course is 17:34.50, which he ran at the 2015 NCC meet to place seventh. That time would have placed 45th in the 3A field at last year’s state meet.

Because he’s not expected to contend at the front of the race, Bultena really has nothing to lose. He simply wants to go out and stick to his strategy and, hopefully, turn in his best time.

“I definitely want to get in the low 17’s to kind of prove what I can do and it could be under 17,” he said. “But we want to run our race and we don’t want to get caught up in whatever everyone else is doing.”

Bultena still sees it as a “we” rather than a “me” because he’s had plenty of help in his preparation for state. Teammates John Piaszynski, Trey Nelson and Matt Johnson have continued to train with him this week.

“They’ve been great,” he said. “I couldn’t do this without them.”

WCHS head coach Joe Lambert hopes his athlete can simply relax and run his race. And whatever outcome that brings, so be it.

“We’re just looking for a great race and a great day from a great kid,” Lambert said.