Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Ford Washburn produced perhaps the best debut season for any runner in the state last fall.
Washburn was the top freshman finisher in the state a year ago when he placed 20th at the Class 4A state meet in Fort Dodge.
The time of 16:10.4 that Washburn clocked at the state meet at Lakeside Golf Course was the second fastest for any underclassmen at the meet across all four classes.
The most impressive aspect in an already remarkable season for Washburn was that it came in a true rookie season.
Prior to his stellar freshman season at City High Washburn had never ran cross country. Really, he’d hardly run at all before bursting onto the state scene last fall.
“Before cross country last year the longest I had ever run was five miles,” Washburn said. “That was my first time ever doing anything like that.”
Washburn planned to take up cross country in junior high but a broken ankle ended that experiment early.
He didn’t let go of the idea of taking up running and joined the track team in the spring.
Washburn enjoyed track so much he gave cross country a try for the first time ever in his first season at City High.
He has proven to be a quick study.
“That was my first season of cross country ever last year and I learned you have to go out fast and not get caught up behind anybody,” Washburn said. “Last year I was just doing the basics.”
Just doing the basics proved to be enough for Washburn to compete with the best in the state.
In his 20th place finish at state he was less than nine seconds off of the pace of the runner that finished 15th. The top 15 at the state meet earn medals.
“This year I’m hoping for top 15 at state,” Washburn said. “Last year I got 20th and I just want to medal. I am hoping I can do that.”
It has been another interesting season for Washburn and his City High teammates.
He opened the season with a strong showing at the Pleasant Valley Invitational, placing fourth in a time of 16:33.
Washburn was two seconds behind currently second-ranked Andrew Bickford of Cedar Rapids Prairie and six seconds behind Johnston senior Yohana Yual who is ranked 12th.
City High went nearly a month between races following the September 5 meet at Pleasant Valley as extra-curricular activities were paused for three weeks when Iowa City Schools started the school year with online only classes.
Washburn stayed active during his time without competition.
“I tried to run every day, sometimes twice a day,” Washburn said. “I was just trying to get as much mileage in as a I could and do all the workouts I would normally do.”
When City High returned to action Washburn was back in form.
He won the City High Bud Williams Invite at Kickers Soccer Complex in his first meet back on October 1.
A week later Washburn was fourth at the West High Early Bird Invite on the same course.
“The first two miles felt really easy last week and I was just cruising and the last mile I sped up a lot,” Washburn said after the West High meet. “That was a lot easier than this meet, it was a lot cooler.”
Despite the delay in the season the goals for Washburn and his teammates remain the same. After a taste of the state meet last season Washburn has his sights set on a return to Fort Dodge later this month.
“I really like the excitement during that race It just pumps me up and makes me want to run fast,” Washburn said. “I’m hoping I can get healthy and we can get back to state.”