Greene County must improve on the fly during 2016 season


Sports Editor 



JEFFERSON – A strong support system could help the Greene County cross country team have an improved season this fall in their second year at the Class 3A level. 

Though participation numbers are lackluster once again, a handful of the top runners on both the boy’s and girl’s squads return. 

Head coach Kelly Simpson has noticed an improved attitude among his returning athletes. 

“One positive I am already seeing from is the support they are giving to their young teammates and each other,” he said. 

The Rams’ first season in 3A was a struggle a year ago, in a highly competitive Heart of Iowa Conference on both sides. Just two returning female runners cracked the top 25 at the conference meet while not a single boy made the top 50. 

Senior Olivia Hansen, the girl’s top returning runner finished 17th at the conference meet and should prove to be the Rams best shot at success. She set a personal best at the state qualifying meet, running to a time of 21:07.7 which placed her 19th overall. 

Hansen placed in the top 10 four times last season, with her highest finish fourth overall at the West Central Valley Invite Sept. 3. 

Then senior Emily Finch finished 21st at the conference meet in Ames while sophomore Melanie Doran snuck into the top 70 with a spot at 68. 

It was an even bigger struggle for the boys’ side. Junior Nick Killion was the Rams’ top finisher, coming in 55th overall with a time of 21:07.9. Junior Ben Wilkens is the only other returning Ram who cracked the top 100 (97th).

“Last year our numbers were small, especially with the boys and the girls race moved from the 4K to the 5K,” Simpson said. “Making that adjustment, and both squads moving up to the competitive 3A classification was difficult.”

The Greene County girls finished seventh at the conference meet, while the Ram boys finished ninth. 

All 10 of the Heart of Iowa Conference’s top female runners return, heavily dominated by Gilbert and North Polk. North Polk ran to a second place finish at the conference meet in Ames last October and came in ninth overall at the Class 2A state meet.  

The Comets should be Gilbert’s biggest threat, as they return five of their top six runners from a year ago. 

Eight of the conference’s top 10 male runners return this fall, including junior Jason Taylor, who came in 41st overall at state with a time of (17:16.9). 

Simpson said it will continue to be a challenge at the Class 3A level with such low participation. Other in season adjustments will need to be made for both squads to see improvement. 

“The boys numbers are still small, and now our freshman have to adjust from the junior high two mile distance to the 5K race,” Simpson said. “What the squad learned last year from their experiences will dictate the success they have this year and the leadership and advice they give the newcomers.”

Greene County boys and girls open the cross country season today (Thursday, Aug. 25) at the Gilbert Invite in Ames at the Iowa State University cross country course. The annual Greene County Invite is two weeks from now, Thursday, Sept. 8 at Spring Lake State Park. 


2016 Greene County Cross Country Schedule 

**Home meets in bold**

• Thursday, Aug. 25 - Gilbert Invite      Away (ISU cross country course)

• Thursday, Sept. 1 - West Central Valley (Stuart)    Away

Thursday, Sept. 8 - Greene County Invite (Spring Lake State Park)   Home

* Thursday, Sept. 22 - Norsemen Invite (Roland-Story)      Away

• Thursday, Sept. 29 - Perry Invite      Away

• Tuesday, Oct. 4 - South Central Calhoun (Lake City)     Away

• Thursday, Oct. 13 - Saydel Invite       Away (HOIC meet) 

* Monday, Oct. 17 - State qualifying meet    TBA


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