Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Nothing that Ford Washburn has done during his high school running career has been slow.
The City High senior is among the fastest distance runners in the state and already owns a pair of medals from the state cross country meet and a state track title in the 3,200.
Even the ascent toward the top of the prep distance running world was quick for Washburn.
He finished 20th at the state cross country meet as a freshman and posted a sixth-place finish a year later.
Even as success came rapidly for Washburn the City High senior has spent the past several seasons fine tuning his craft.
Washburn is hoping his dedication to everything outside of race day running will help him reach new heights in his final prep season.
“I think what I’ve learned the past few years is mostly just how to train and eat and all the things outside of racing,” Washburn said. “I feel like I’ve gotten a lot more mature and better at all of those things.”
Washburn has followed a rapid rise toward the top of the 4A cross country podium.
After placing 20th and sixth his first two trips to the 4A meet at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge he was fourth at state last season as s junior.
Washburn ran 16:10.4 and 16:11.2 in his first two trips to the state meet before dropping that to 15:32.88 last season to cap a breakthrough junior campaign.
The fourth-place finish by Washburn last season matched the best for a City High runner since Brook Price was fourth in 2012.
Now Washburn has his sights set even higher this fall as he attempts to become the first City High individual champion since Randy Jackson in 1975.
“Being better in workouts and running more mileage has helped me improve,” Washburn said. “Race experience does help but it’s all those things outside the race that I think has helped.”
Washburn opened the season third in the Iowa Association of Track Coaches individual rankings behind West Des Moines Dowling senior Jackson Heidesch and Sioux City North senior Gabe Nash.
Heidesch won the 4A state title last season and Nash was third, .14 of a second in front of Washburn.
Having people running faster and faster all around makes you want to run faster to match up with them,” Washburn said. “I think that’s a big part as to why I have improved and a lot of guys around the state have gotten better.”
Washburn followed up his junior cross country campaign with a stellar track season in which he finished runner-up in the Drake Relays 3,200 and won the 4A 3,200 meter title.
In the season-opening meet for the Little Hawks last week Washburn clocked a 15:32.5 in winning the West High Earlybird Invitational at Ashton Cross Country Course in Iowa City.
“Last year our first meet was at Pleasant Valley and I think I ran 16:30 and that’s a really tough course but I was running low 16 high 15 at the beginning of the season,” Washburn said. “So I am definitely a lot faster than I was last year at the start.”
A faster Washburn has City High thinking big things in 2022.
The Little Hawks return four of their top five finishers from last year’s team that finished third behind West Des Moines Dowling and Sioux City North at last year’s 4A state meet for the best City High finish since 2008.
This season the goal is securing the first state title for City High since 2000.
“That’s our biggest goal for sure,” Washburn said. “It’s our last year, our top four runners are all seniors and we’ve been through it all together so we are hoping to finish on a high note.”