GREENE COUNTY XC: Girls finish sixth at Gilbert Early Bird Invite

Hansen, Cunningham cruise to top-20 spots


Sports Editor



AMES – A cross country veteran and a rookie were the highlights of a solid season-opening meet for the Greene County cross country team last Thursday evening. 

Senior Olivia Hansen was up to her old tricks, securing an 18th place finish at the Iowa State University cross country course Aug. 25 with a time of 23:17, a 30 second improvement from a season ago. 

Freshman Bailey Cunningham came in just two spots later at 20th overall in her first varsity meet. She cruised to a time of 23:22.3. 

Overall, the Rams finished sixth as a team out of 12 squads from across central and west-central Iowa with 209 total points. Gilbert took home top honors with 32 total points with five top-12 runners, including silver medalist, Carly Rahn. 

Dallas Center-Grimes, North Polk, Newton and Nevada rounded out the top five.

“(It was a) top half finish for the girls in a tough 3A and 4A meet,” Greene County cross country coach Kelly Simpson said. “They need to believe that they can compete at this level which they showed they could.”

Hansen enters the 2016 season as the Rams’ top returning runner and it showed Thursday in Ames. 

“This was a much improved placing and time over last year’s performance at this meet. This should be a big confidence builder for her going into the next two meets,” Simpson said. 

Though Cunningham was running in her first ever varsity competition, the high finish was something her coaches knew she was capable of coming into the season. Simpson sees great potential in the young runner but still has a long ways to go before she consistently perform near the top. 

“This was a great start for the freshman, but not a surprise to the coaching staff,” the coach said. “She has great speed, but lacks the endurance and mileage that the runners in front of her.”

The girls’ next highest runner was Izzy Bravard, who ran a time of 28:04, good for 79th place, followed closely by Ashlee Harmeyer, who came in 80th overall with a time of 28:05. 

The Greene County boys had just five runners competing and came in 13th at the Gilbert Invite. Not one runner broke the top-100, with Nick Killion the Rams’ highest finisher at 113. Brian Hardaway (181), Nathan Kennedy (194), Sergio Perez (205) and Jacob Hueser (231) rounded out the rest of the Greene County runners. Dallas Center-Grimes’ tandem of Alex Thomspen and Tyler Borneman finished one-two on the boys’ side powering the Mustangs to the overall title with 26 total points. Gilbert, Bondurant-Farrar, North Polk and Kuemper filled out the top-five.

Simpson was encouraged by Kennedy’s effort, as he improved his time from a year ago by nearly an entire minute. He ran the 5K course in 26 seconds flat, 58 seconds better than his time last fall. 

“Nathan Kennedy ran a much improved race over his last year’s performance, but the rest of the boys ran a little tentative,” Simpson said. “Hopefully, they will push the pace throughout the race more at Stuart.”

The Ram cross country team hits the road again for the West Central Valley Invite this afternoon in Stuart. Simpson hopes to see overall improvement from all of his runners in what should be a fairly easier course than the one in Ames. 

“We want to see a big drop in time by all our runners,” the coach said. “If the heat and humidity stays down this course should run faster than the ISU course.”

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