Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – A lot has changed for Noah Carey and his City High cross country teammates since the last time they competed on their home course.
The last time Carey competed at Ashton Cross Country Course in Iowa City he was a member of the junior varsity team and City High had missed qualifying for the Class 4A state meet the previous season.
On Thursday Carey and the Little Hawks showed on just how far they have come.
Carey finished runner-up as Class 4A second-ranked City High had five finishers in the top seven and cruised to the team title at the Trojan Earlybird Invite at Ashton Cross Country Course.
“I was just excited to get back on this course, it’s been two years since we’ve been here and with this being our home course I love being back out here,” Carey said. “Last time I ran out here I was still JV and running 18 minutes so I’ve come a long way.”
The entire City High program has come a long way since it last competed at the Ashton Course in 2019.
City High finished third at the 4A state meet last season and gave a quick reminder on Thursday of why it is ranked second and considered a favorite to battle for the 4A title this season.
Led by individual champion Ford Washburn the Little Hawks had the top three finishers on Thursday and finished with 19 points to outdistance runner-up Liberty High by 42.
Washburn won the individual title in 15:32.5 while Carey was runner-up in 16:21.2 and Truman Thompson was third in 16:26.3.
“I think we are going to be way stronger this year even than we were last year,” Carey said. “I think we have gotten closer as a team over the last year and I think we’ve kind of figured out where we are and I think we just build off each other really well and that chemistry has continued.”
For City High the season-opening meet on Thursday was a show of force.
Ayman Noreldaim finished sixth in 17:07.1 and Braden Marker was seventh in 17:14.5.
Little Hawks Adam Bywater (11th) and Owyn Noble (12th) added top-15 finishes.
“I was definitely excited to get back and race and run with the team and see how we could do,” Thompson said. “This was a really good gauge of how we are going to do this season. We just had three under 16:30 at the first meet which I don’t know much but that seems like it is pretty good for the start of the season.”
Washburn, who finished fourth at the 4A state meet last fall, led from essentially the outset on Thursday.
The senior sprinted to the front of the pack and steadily built a sizeable lead winning in 15:32.5.
“I was running low 16s or high 15 at the beginning of the season so I am definitely a lot faster now than I was at the start of last season,” Washburn said. “I think I could have run a lot faster. I have had some hamstring pain I have been dealing with the last few days but it wasn’t too bad but the heat mad it tough today.”
Thompson ran second behind Washburn for most of the race before Carey passed his teammate over the final 200 meters.
“That’s what I tried to do at the beginning was stay up with Ford but the pace kind of became a little unmanageable,” Thompson said. “Noah caught me at the end which actually really nice to see because it shows we have a really strong team.”
Carey used his strong kick to notch the best finish of his career.
“My main goal was to stick with Truman and he was guiding me most of the race, so I just wanted to be with a shot of him because he’s a great benchmark and a great runner,” Carey said. “That was pretty much my goal and I achieved it.”
Liberty High had three runners place in the top eight led by top-five finishes from junior Aidan Decker and senior Nathan Kinzer on its way to a runner-up team finish.
Decker was fourth in 16:52.1 followed by Kinzer in fifth in a time of 16:59.
Sophomore Noah Gregoire was eighth in 17:23.6.
Trojan Earlybird Invite
Team scores – 1. City High 19; 2. Liberty High 61; 3. Bettendorf 71; 4. Mid-Prairie 95; 5. Dubuque Senior 126
Individual leaders – 1. Ford Washburn (ICH) 15:32.5; 2. Noah Carey (ICH) 16:21.2; 3. Truman Thompson (ICH) 16:26.3; 4. Aidan Decker (ICL) 16:52.1; 5. Nathan Kinzer (ICL) 16:59; 6. Ayman Noreldaim (ICH) 17:07.1; 7. Braeden Marker (ICH) 17:14.5; 8. Noah Gregoire (ICL) 17:23.6; 9. Chase Wakefield (BET) 17:29.5; 10. Emmett Swartzendruber (M-P) 17:29.6; 11. Adam Bywater (ICH) 17:33.6; 12. Owyn Noble (ICH) 17:44.3; 13. Xavier Potts (BET) 18:05.1; 14. Ryan Heden (BET) 18:05.6; 15. Jack Kirman (DS) 18:15.8
City High (19) – 1. Ford Washburn 15:32.5; 2. Noah Carey 16:21.2; 3. Truman Thompson 16:26.3; 6. Ayman Noreldaim 17:07.1; 7. Braeden Marker 17:14.5; 11. Adam Bywater 17:33.6; 12. Owyn Noble 17:44.3
Liberty High (61) – 4. Aidan Decker 16:52.1; 5. Nathan Kinzer 16:59; 8. Noah Gregoire 17:23.6; 21. Jacob Madsen 18:45.3; 26. Maxwell Thompson 19:02.8; 28. Maddux Johnson 19:09.5; 37. Thomas Fowler 19:29.4