NP boys, girls both return quality experience

Big things look to be in store for the North Polk cross country program this season as both teams plan to make even more noise at state in 2013 after both teams finished in the top 10 of Class 2A in 2012.

The North Polk boys will be eyeing another top-five finish at state after taking second in 2A at state a year ago. The Comets return three of their top four runners from that squad in seniors Peter Smith, Ryley Sandberg and Reed Smith.

"Although it will be difficult to duplicate last season’s runner-up finish, I think the boys’ team will be strong once again," North Polk head coach Steve Leach said. "Peter, Ryley and Reed are hard workers who have had tremendous success during their careers. The challenge for me is to find four boys who can handle the pressure of performing as varsity athletes when they’ve never been expected to do so on a consistent basis."

Peter was the top runner for North Polk most of last season. He placed third at the Heart of Iowa Conference meet, second at the state qualifying meet and 11th at state, where he ran a season-best five-kilometer time of 16 minutes, 19 seconds.

Sandberg’s fastest time a year ago was 16:59 at state. He came in 31st at state and fourth at the HOIC meet and third at the qualifying meet. Reed took fifth at conference, seventh at the qualifying meet and 40th at state a year ago and his top time was 16:50.

Leach will have a large number of runners to choose from to fill in the four remaining varsity spots on the boys’ squad.

Seniors Zach Brecht, Chris Flynn, Andrew Humphrey, Nick Kibby, Corey Richards and Michael Rimathe are joined by junior Matthew Turk and sophomores Zach Allen and Christian Berglund as the other varsity candidates.

The Comet girls came in ninth at state a year ago. They bring in a talented senior class, led by individual top-10 state finisher Sybbie Sears.

Last year Sears placed sixth individually at state, where she ran her best four-kilometer time of 15:22. Sears also won an HOIC individual title and took first at the qualifying meet.

Samantha Sinclair and Tessa Subra are North Polk’s other returning seniors, and exchange student Risa Suhara gives the team more upperclassman depth.

Sinclair came on strong last year to end up the Comets’ second runner. Sinclair placed 17th at conference, narrowly missed making state individually at the qualifying meet and then ran her best time of 16:24 at state, where she came in 48th.

Subra took 32nd at conference, 28th at the qualifying meet and 92nd at state last year. Like Sears and Sinclair, she ran her best time of 17:30 at state.

Emerson Sears and Ohara Lesher also return with experience.

Emerson took 42nd at the qualifying meet and 84th at state and her best time last year was 17:08 at state. Lesher’s fastest time last year was 18:27.

"Five members of this year’s team ran at state last year, but they aren’t in shape yet," Leach said. "They will have to push themselves in the coming weeks and close the gaps that exist if they want to return as a team to Fort Dodge."

Junior Jackie Moeckly, sophomore Rachel Zimmerman and freshman Olivia Patterson will also compete for a varsity spot.

The North Polk cross country teams open the season Sept. 3 at the Dallas Center-Grimes Invitational in Grimes. The meet will start at 5 p.m.