Both teams will eye state in 2014

The Collins-Maxwell-Baxter boys’ cross country team showed great promise and the Raider girls went through a rebuilding phase in 2013.

A year after struggling to get enough runners to score at meets the CMB boys were able to field a competitive team, including two consistent top-20 runners.

The Raider girls had to adjust to life without last year’s talented senior class – led by two-time state qualifier Hayley Leonard. The CMB girls were unable to make it back to state as a team, but they still had some bright spots this fall.

"We took a big step in the right direction with both the boys and the girls," CMB head coach Jerry Meinerts said. "We are very young and they took some lumps this year. But they grew, matured and are really talking about next season and accomplishing some incredible goals."

The CMB boys finished the season strong. They took fifth at the Heart of Iowa Conference meet, won the West Marshall Invitational and came in fifth out of 12 teams at the Class 2A state qualifying meet in Ames.

Juniors Mark Deutsch and Colin Thompson set the pace for CMB. Deutsch placed in the top 10 seven times and Thompson accomplished that feat on five occasions.

Deutsch – the team’s top returning runner from a year ago – began the year strong by placing in the top eight during each of CMB’s first four meets. But then he got sick and went through a rough stretch where he placed 23rd at Nevada, didn’t run at Eldora and took 12th at South Hamilton.

But Deutsch started to recover just in time. He placed 10th at the HOIC meet, took second at West Marshall with a season-best 5-kilometer time of 17 minutes, 22 seconds and then came in sixth at the qualifying meet with an impressive 17:28 showing.

Deutsch’s state qualifying effort was easily good enough to advance him on to state. It marked the second year in a row the CMB boys moved one runner on to Fort Dodge as Aaron Ward qualified as a senior in 2012.

At state Deutsch ran a time of 18:14 to place 85th out of 130 runners.

"Obviously having an athlete qualify for the state meet is a great way to end the season," Meinerts said.

Thompson was a breakout performer. In his first year of competition for CMB he managed to finish 10th at Ballard, ninth at the HOIC meet, eighth at Pella and Nevada and third at the West Marshall meet.

Thompson also came in 15th at the qualifying meet. His top time of the season was 17:43 at West Marshall and he also ran a sub 18-minute time of 17:57 at South Hamilton.

Calvin Jones emerged as third runner for the CMB boys late in the season. Jones took 40th at the HOIC meet, seventh at West Marshall with a season-best time of 18:36 and 31st at the qualifying meet.

Eric Hall-Flooden, Lincoln Brown, Brock Johnston and Drake Caple were the other varsity regulars for the CMB boys.

Hall-Flooden placed 12th at West Marshall with a season-best time of 19:23 and he also took 62nd at the HOIC meet and 44th at the qualifying meet. Brown was 16th at West Marshall with his best time of 19:52 and he took 68th at conference and 59th at the qualifying meet.

Johnston ran his fastest time of 19:33 at West Marshall to place 14th and he also ended up 60th at the HOIC meet and 56th at the qualifying meet. Caple peaked with a 19:36 showing at South Hamilton and he placed 77th at conference, 18th at West Marshall and 64th at the qualifying meet.

The CMB girls were led by freshman Heather Jessen. Jessen emerged as the top runner in the middle of the season and led the rest of the way, with fellow freshmen Winter Brown and Anna Jones, sophomores Chasity Moody and Stephanie Twohey, junior Chantel Maxwell and senior Mackenzie Klemme next in line.

The Raider girls had their lumps during the season. They ended up eighth at the HOIC meet, but stepped it up a notch at the qualifying meet to finish fifth.

Jessen’s highest place was fifth at West Marshall. She took 13th at Pella, 15th at Jefferson, 23rd at Ballard, 24th at PCM, 11th at Nevada, 15th at South Hamilton and 21st at the HOIC meet.

Jessen saved her best for last. She got within striking distance of qualifying for state after placing 13th at the qualifying meet with a season-best 4-kilometer time of 16:36.

Brown was the second runner for CMB much of the season. She peaked time-wise at Eldora with 17:12 showing, just missed that mark with a 23rd-place time of 17:13 at the qualifying meet and added a 38th-place finish at conference and sixth-place showing at West Marshall.

Jones also ran her best race at the qualifying meet by coming in 31st at 17:44. Leading up to the qualifying meet Jones had finished 51st at the conference meet and ninth at West Marshall.

Moody was the top returning runner for CMB entering the season. She came in 37th at conference, eighth at West Marshall and 32nd at the qualifying meet with a 17:45 performance.

Moody’s best time was 17:09 at Eldora.

Twohey didn’t compete at the HOIC or West Marshall meets after taking 31st at Eldora with a season-best time of 17:33 and running a 36th-place time of 18:17 at South Hamilton. Two came back to compete at the qualifying meet, where she came in 52nd with an 18:21 showing.

Maxwell turned in her best outing of 18:15 early in the season at Jefferson. She finished 44th at the HOIC meet, 17th at West Marshall and 57th at the qualifying meet.

Klemme took 46th at the HOIC meet and 12th at West Marshall. She finished her career with a season-best time of 18:17 to place 50th at the qualifying meet.

Mariah Norton and Jacquelyn Staudt also ran some varsity for CMB. Norton took 20th at West Marshall and her best time was 18:56 at Eldora and Staudt came in 64th at the HOIC meet with a time of 19:37.

Klemme and Norton were the only two seniors on either Raider team.

"Mackenzie was a four-year letterwinner and just a very consistent runner all four years," Meinerts said.

With the girls returning everyone else and the entire boys’ team coming back in tact Meinerts has big expectations for the CMB cross country program in 2014.

"I look for both squads to be improved," Meinerts said. "I think the boys and the girls both have a legitimate shot at qualifying for the state meet. But that is up to the athletes and what they do this summer."