Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The cross country course at Kickers Soccer Complex is special for veteran Regina runners Natalie Franklin and Mya Whitaker.
It was the course of the first ever meet for Franklin who took up cross country last season.
It’s a course Whitaker has run 12 times in her prep career.
It is home for the Regals.
“I love running here,” Franklin said. “It’s our home course. We know it well and that helps.”
On Thursday the friendly confines of the course Regina runs the most helped the Regals return to their favorite course.
Regina put three runners in the top 10 and won the team title at the Class 1A state qualifying meet at Kickers Soccer Complex in Iowa City.
“I am so excited to run at state,” Whitaker said. “I love that course, it’ one of my favorites. I was so nervous for today, I was especially nervous for today but I am really, really glad I am going to be running at Fort Dodge next week.”
Whitaker finished third and Franklin was fifth as seventh-ranked regia and No. 8 North Linn each finished with 42 points to secure spots at the Class 1A state meet set for October 30 at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
Regina will be seeking a second consecutive top-three finish at the state meet after placing third last season.
“They have worked really hard all year and they really showed it today and I am so thrilled for them,” Regina coach Swope said. “We talk all the time that nothing worthwhile comes easy you have to work for it. Nobody here was going to sit down and let us get it everybody was trying to take it from us today and we had to take it and we ran strong.”
Thursday marked the fourth time Regina had run the course at Kickers this season and the second in nine days after hosting the River Valley Conference meet last Tuesday.
Regina used that familiarity to its benefit on Thursday.
“It definitely helps a lot knowing where you are going to have people cheering for you and where you can go and what parts of the course on the downhill you can let yourself fly,” Franklin said. “That is really helpful knowing where everything is on the course.”
Whitaker finished third in a time of 21:04.33 just four seconds behind Lynnville-Sully junior Greenlee Smock who was runner-up in 21:00.54.
North Linn sophomore Meghan Wheatley pulled away from Smock and Whitaker over the final mile to win the individual title in 19:51.51.
“(Smock) put up a tough fight for the whole race,” Whitaker said. “She ended up getting me but it was great to run with her and we were high fiving, I was very proud of her.”
Franklin was right behind Whitaker placing fifth in a time of 21:48.05 and was more than 24 seconds in front of the next runner.
“I know where the tough parts are in the race and I just really focused on pushing through those and keeping my eyes on the girl in front of me,” Franklin said. “I was just telling myself I could do.”
Senior Josie Pursley added a 10th-place finish for Regina in a time of 22:41.45 and the Regals had two more runners in the 15.
Freshman Catherine Klitgaard was 13th in 22:57.69 and senior Allison Hein was 15th in 23:10.29.
“Mya has been there all year for us and Natalie is right there with her,” Swope said. “Natalie has really developed a love of running and has such a positive outlook. She has been really important for us but I thought all of the girls were amazing today. I am so proud of them.”
Class 1A State Qualifier
At Kickers Soccer Complex in Iowa City
Team scores – 1. Regina 42; 2. North Linn 42; 3. Montezuma 68; 4. Lynnville-Sully 84; 5. Columbus 119
Individual leaders – 1. Meghan Wheatley (NL) 19:51.51; 2. Greenlee Smock (L-S) 21:00.54; 3. Mya Whitaker (ICR) 21:04.33; 4. Leah Bontrager (Hillcrest Academy) 21:42.57; 5. Natalie Franklin (ICR) 221:48.05; 6. Bryn Collum (NL) 22:12.71; 7. Ellen Cook (MON) 22:18.2; 8. Alivia Cline (MON) 22:29.93; 9. Mackenzie Bridgewater (NL) 22:34.63; 10. Josie Pursley (ICR) 22:41.45; 11. Olivia Norrish (L-S) 22:51.74; 12. Ariana Vergara (COL) 22:55.9; 13. Catherine Klitgaard (ICR) 22:57.69; 14. Kyla Bildstein (NL) 23:00.2; 15. Allison Hein (ICR) 23:10.29
Regina (42) – 3. Mya Whitaker 21:04.33; 4. Natalie Franklin 221:48.05; 10. Josie Pursley 22:41.45; 13. Catherine Klitgaard 22:57.69; 15. Allison Hein 23:10.29; 16. Alex Spies 23:19; 20. Gwyn Charlton 23:49.28