by Claire Milligan
The cross country team’s season isn’t quite over yet, with freshman Emma Kolb qualifying for the state meet individually. Coach Jocelyn Meinders had high hopes for Kolb. As she was ranked 13th in the state, it wasn’t a matter of whether or not she’d go to state, but what place she’d get. And with a time of 20:46, Kolb finished 4th place. “She has had a phenomenal season, especially as a freshman,” said Meinders. “She was also All-Conference at a very competitive LHC conference meet.”
It has been seven years since a female runner from PC has qualified for state, and Kolb is excited for the chance to run against other good runners. “I am really hoping to get a good time at state because it’s been awhile since that’s happened,” said Kolb. “Hopefully this isn’t my last time running at state, and maybe next year I won’t be the only one running for PC.”
Kolb contributed many techniques that allowed her to have such a successful run, and a lot of it’s mental. “I always tell myself to run for me. I run because it makes me feel better about myself,” said Kolb. “Even if my time is bad, the runner’s high is always one of the great parts of running.”
The results of the State Qualifying meet determined what teams and individual runners can go to State. The top 3 teams as well as the top 15 guys and top 15 girls advance.
The girl’s team was unfortunately unable to compete as a team because they lack a qualifying team of five runners. However, they could still race individually. Unlike the girls, the guys had a full varsity roster of seven members and prepared themselves for the very difficult meet based on the teams that they faced for the top three spots. Unfortunately, the guy’s team placed 5th place and did not qualify as a team.
The team faced many challenges this season, one of them being low numbers. “We only had three uninjured girls to run and ten guys. It made a severe lack of depth,” said Meinders. “We’ve also had a few injury issues with various people that have been a struggle.”
In spite of low numbers, Meinders saw improvements in her runners. When comparing last year’s times to this year, the times dropped tremendously. And while the runners grew physically, they also grew mentally. “I saw people grow in friendships, character, and maturity,” said Meinders. “They have drive, determination, and perseverance. They did a great job with our theme of R.I.S.E.: respect, integrity, stamina, and encouragement.”
The team enjoyed success at some of the smaller meets, such as Lynnville-Sully and Montezuma where they came away with came away with a lot of medals and great team places for the guys. However, some meets such as Johnston, Knoxville, and the Little Hawkeye Conference tested the runners as they faced big schools. “Competing against the larger schools made us more competitive and helped us really work on ours races,” said Meinders.
“It was so fun to seeing the team meet their goals and do well – individually and as a whole. I also really enjoyed seeing everyone have fun together and bond as a team- a lot of laughs throughout the season,” said Meinders.