City High senior Mary ArchBy Susan Harman
Your Prep Sports
CEDAR RAPIDS – It’s a program that’s as reliable as the sunrise, as consistent as the calendar, and still never lacks for fun and camaraderie.
For 29 years in a row the City High girls cross-country team has qualified for the state meet. The IGHSAU doesn’t keep records of appearances, but if it did it would be hard to top the Little Hawks for consistent excellence.
“It’s awesome that we just keep pushing for that as a team every year,” sophomore Anna Lindower said.
The Little Hawk girls won the state-qualifying meet Thursday at Noelridge Park, finishing with 37 points, ahead of Linn-Mar, Muscatine and Cedar Rapids Kennedy. They were led by senior Mary Arch, who won a thrilling race in 18:27.88, edging Kennedy’s Ella Popenhagen by a knee and Lindower by an elbow. The three of them finished within a second of each other.
The City High boys team also earned a state berth, finishing second to Cedar Rapids Washington and ahead of Linn-Mar. City senior Matthew Dodge finished second in 16:02.05 to Linn-Mar’s MVC champion Ryan Murphy. The boys team packed up behind Dodge and finished 10-13-17-18.
“I was running up hill and I could hear my dad,” Arch said of her final 100 meters. “And there was that girl right behind me, and I was like I got to get going; she’s going to catch me.
City High's Matthew Dodge and Michael Berg
“And I thought about just giving up. And I was like, ‘What? This is horrible. I’m in so much pain.’ But then I think God really gave me like a new strength. I don’t know where that came from.”
Arch was ninth at state a year ago and won the MVC Super meet title. This year she’s been competitive but didn’t win a divisional or conference title. Her time at the Super meet was 24 seconds slower on the same course.
But Thursday she was among the leaders at the halfway point and stayed there.
“I started out a little bit slower because in my last two races I went out way too fast,” she said. “I felt really good today. I felt like I was really in a groove.”
Lindower improved her time by 45 seconds from the Super meet on the same course.
“I was a little bit behind the lead group, but I was like, ‘I should stick with the pack because it’s easier to run with them,’” Lindower said. “My teammate, Mary, was leading and I knew I’d run with her in workouts, and my coach said I want you to run with Mary.”
Lindower did exactly that, catching up with the leaders at the 2-mile mark. So with Arch going out a little slower to save energy and Lindower gunning it, City found the right combination.
“It was really intense,” Lindower said of the finish. “It was a full-out sprint. They were all like coming up and I was like ‘We gotta go.’ We were all racing our hearts out then.”
Packed up behind were Emily Bywater in 10th, Bridget Brown 11th and Annie Rummelhart 12th. Brown improved her time by 17 seconds and Rummehart by 10 seconds.
“I’m really pleased with the way Bridget stepped up today and the leadership that Emily Bywater showed,” City coach Tom Mittman said. “She had our 4 through 7 keying off of her, and she carried them along. For a couple of them that was a stretch.
“Almost everybody ran their best race of the year.”
Bud Williams started the streak and Mittman has kept it going.
“The girls sell the program to other girls, so we keep our numbers up,” Mittman said. “We take it seriously. If you get 70 girls out every year and you get them to train… We promote success at all levels. To me having a successful JV program means you’ve got kids committed to the program and stick in there for three, four years.
“You have to have some luck. You have to be healthy. You have to have some talent. But in order to be competitive and get to state you have a program where each individual is important. If you get the majority of the girls to pull the girls behind them and push the girls ahead of them you’re going to be OK.”
Dodge finished five seconds behind Murphy in 16:02.05 and just .65 ahead of Washington’s Sam McDermott. He was forced to push the pace to his liking in a field that was running conservatively.
City High's Matthew Dodge
“I knew Murphy would be a major player out there, so I tried to stay with him,” Dodge said. “But a lot of the guys got out a bit slower. I tend to run better times and place better when we go out a bit faster, so I kicked it out.”
Dodge said the pace slowed again in another mile and he pushed through that too.
“I didn’t want to get too far ahead and die at the end,” he said.
“We’ve talked to (Dodge) all season about where are you at and where should you be running,” City coach Jayme Skay said. “His weakness in the early season was a delayed start. Now he’s going out and we’re telling him ‘you’ve got to run like you’re a leader.’ Michael Berg helped teach him that because Michael does that. He goes out strong every time.”
Berg was 10th, Robbie Strang 13th, Lucas Firmstone 17th and Quenton Max 18th.
Skay conceded the strategy of a state-qualifying race influenced the speeds.
“That’s indicative of three teams that are all very good teams that are running with strategy,” Skay said. “We all want to make it to state because that’s the ultimate goal, but you want to be competitive with each other. You could see at the one-mile mark a huge group running together.”
The Little Hawks’ training has been hard and heavy with an eye toward state. Dodge could feel the difference beginning to show.
“The rest of the season we’ve been kind of training through the meets, so it’s been hard,” he said. “But we took it a little easier this week, so our legs were fresh.”
Class 4A State Qualifying Meet at Noelridge Park in Cedar Rapids
Team scores (Top three qualify for state meet) – 1. City High 37; 2. Linn-Mar 78; 3. Muscatine 81*; 4. C.R. Kennedy 81; 5. Ottumwa 120; 6. C.R. Washington 155; 7. C.R. Jefferson 195; 8. Newton 221; 9. Western Dubuque 241. *won tiebreak on sixth runner finish.
Top 15 individuals (Qualifiers for state meet) – 1. Mary Arch (ICH) 18:27.88, 2. Ella Popenhagen (CRK) 18:28.15, 3. Anna Lindower (ICH) 18:28.64, 4. Brina Kraft (Mus) 18:37.69, 5. Kylie Latham (Ott) 18:38.53, 6. Maddie Mann (LM) 18:42.34, 7. Reagan Gorman (CRW) 18:57.78, 8. Hannah Fusselman (CRK) 19:02.55, 9. Moriah Morter (Mus) 19:06.66, 10. Emily Bywater (ICH) 19:08.28, 11. Bridget Brown (ICH) 19:10.62, 12. Annie Rummelhart (ICH) 19:16.58, 13. Abby Van Rheenen (LM) 19:20.32, 14. Alli Bookin-Nosbisch (Ott)19:20.69, 15. Brooklyn Button (CRK) 19:21.09.
City High (37) – 1. Arch 18:27.88, 3. Lindower 18:28.64, 10. Bywater 19:08.28, 11. Brown 19:10.62, 12. Rummelhart 19:16.58, 17. Kinsee Brands 19:27.80, 21. Esti Brady 19:43.29.
Team scores (Top three qualify for state meet) – 1. C.R. Washington 43; 2. City High 60; 3. Linn-Mar 65; 4. Muscatine 106; 5. Western Dubuque 107; 6. C.R. Kennedy 142; 7. C.R. Jefferson 201; 8. Ottumwa 222; 9. Newton 239.
Individual results (Qualifiers for state meet) – 1. Ryan Murphy (LM) 15:57.06, 2. Matthew Dodge (ICH)16:02.05, 3. Sam McDermott (CRW) 16:02.70, 4. Alex Bautista (Mus) 16:03.93, 5. Dalton Gosch (LM) 16:05.77, 6. Max Locher (CRW) 16:08.08, 7.Lewis Kleman (CRW) 16:08.52, 8. Joe Freiburger (WD) 16:12.32, 9. Kyle Hoffman (Mus) 16:13.16, 10. Michael Berg (ICH) 16:16.60, 11. Tyler Olson (Mus) 16:17.43, 12. Patrick Gorman (CRW) 16:18.74, 13. Robbie Strang (ICH 16:21.08, 14. Nathan Betts (WD) 16:24.10, 15. Paul Schneiderman (CRW) 16:24.52.
City High (60) – 2. Dodge 16:02.05, 10. Berg 16:16.60, 13. Strang 16:21.08, 17. Lucas Firmstone 16:25.82, 18. Max Quenton 16:32.82, 22. Michael Taylor 16:46.81, 24. Caden Turnbough 16:50.19.