Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Some runners would be nervous competing against a field as challenging as the one at the Trojan Earlybird Invite.
West High junior Cindy Wang was thrilled when she saw the list of opponents for Thursday’s season-opener.
“I was so excited when I saw the teams on the list for this meet,” Wang said. “I was super stoked to race against those girls to see where I was at.”
It turns out Wang stacks up pretty well against some of the best in the state.
Wang finished eighth overall on Thursday at Ashton Cross Country Course in Iowa City in a race that included Class 4A second-ranked and defending 4A runner-up Pleasant Valley and 2A defending champ Mid-Prairie.
Pleasant Valley sophomore standout Grace Boleyn edged defending 2A state champion Danielle Hostetler of Mid-Prairie by a little more than as second for the individual title as the Spartans had five of the top six finishers and rolled to the team title with 19 points.
Liberty High was runner-up with 79 points winning a tiebreaker of 2A third-ranked Mid-Prairie while 4A No. 19 West High was fourth with 94 points.
“Today we wanted to do the strategies that it will take for us to do well which is to not run ourselves out in that first mile, catch a little rhythm in the second mile and be passing in the third mile and they did that today,” West High coach Mike Parker said. “Now what we have to do is improve our average mile so that passing is taking place further up in the pack. I thought from that part they did a perfect job today.”
Wang concluded a breakthrough season last fall by finishing 34th in her debut at the Class 4A state meet.
In her first meet this season Wang had a chance to see where she stood against some of the state’s best led by Boleyn and Hostetler.
Boleyn won in 18:41.9 while Hostetler was runner-up in 18:43.
Wang finished eighth in a time of 21:07.2.
“It was really exciting to run against the teams that were here today,” Wang said. “I think today was a great opportunity to see how I can improve.”
A year ago West High got off to a strong start to the season but failed to qualify for the state meet for the third year in a row.
This season the focus for Parker and the Trojans is finishing on a high note.
“For us I think last year we really started well and had a pretty decent middle but then at the end of the season we weren’t where we wanted to be and we are really focused on flipping that around,” Parker said. “We are taking our time and we are doing to do everything we can possibly do to have our legs strong at the end of the season.”
Junior Gabby Moniza finished 20th for West High in a time of 21:57.3 while freshman Kate Van Waning was 22nd in 22:11 and junior Erinn Varga was 24th in 22:17.4.
“Cindy and Gabby and Erinn are really maturing and you can see it now,” Parker said. “Those three are really understanding what we want to do and how we need to train.”
Liberty High had four runners in the top 20 led by Bridget Canton who was 11th in 21:32.1.
Madelyn Johnson was 15th in 21:41.8 followed by Hannah Ramsey who was 18th in 21:50.3.
Malia Taylor was 19th in 21:55.6.
Trojan Earlybird Invite
Team scores – 1. Pleasant Valley 19; 2. Liberty High 79; 3. Mid-Prairie 79; 4. West High 94; 5. Bettendorf 105
Individual leaders – 1. Grace Boleyn (PV) 18:41.9; 2. Danielle Hostetler (M-P) 18:43; 3. Lydia Sommer (PV) 20:05.4; 4. Sophia Foad (PV) 20:30.3; 5. Lexi Minard (PV) 20:45.3; 6. Gretchen Highberger (PV) 20:55.8; 7. Abby Fleming (M-P) 21:06; 8. Cindy Wang (ICW) 21:07.2; 9. Josie Case (PV) 21:17.6; 10. Selah Flanigan (PV) 21:26.6; 11. Bridget Canton (ICL) 21:32.1; 12. Emily See (BET) 21:35.1; 13. Khusi Mehta (PV) 21:39.6; 14. Maya Williams (BET) 21:40.4; 15. Madelyn Johnson (ICL) 21:41.8
Liberty High (79) – 11. Bridget Canton 21:32.1; 15. Madelyn Johnson 21:41.8; 18. Hannah Ramsey 21:50.3; 19. Malia Taylor 21:55.6; 23. Mimi Marquardt 22:12.7; 25. Sam Estrada 22:18.4; 27. Hailey Noel 22:26.3
West High (94) – 8. Cindy Wang 21:07.2; 20. Gabby Moniza 21:57.3; 22. Kate Van Waning 22:11; 24. Erinn Varga 22:17.4; 28. Minou Emmad 22:39.2; 33. Kalli Titus 23:32.9; 39. Annie Dickens 24:17.9