Strong young talent and quality depth enabled both Collins-Maxwell cross-country teams to raise the bar in 2019

The Collins-Maxwell girls won the first Iowa Star Conference meet in program history and and added two more victories. The Spartans came in first at both the Spartan Early Bird Invitational and the West Marshall Invitational and they added a third-place finish at both Pella and North Polk.

“We had a successful season,” Meinerts said. “We were competitive at every meet that we went to. I wish we would have had some better weather to get some more meets in, but it is what it is.”

Bad weather ended up costing Collins-Maxwell nearly half its schedule. The Spartans missed running at Colfax-Mingo, Colo-NESCO, Nevada, West Central Valley and Montezuma.

At the ISC meet Collins-Maxwell scored 53 points to easily beat North Tama by 38 points for the conference title. The Spartan girls had six runners place in the top 16 and two - Alexis Houge and Avery Fricke - both make all-conference after finishing seventh and eighth respectively.

At the Class 1A state-qualifying meet in Marshalltown Collins-Maxwell just missed qualifying for state. The top three teams qualify and the Spartans took fourth out of 27 teams with 137 points, coming in just 13 points behind Madrid for the final qualifying spot.

“Our girls run well as a team with typically a very small gap between our No. 1 and No. 7 runners,” Meinerts said. “We had eight or nine girls that by the end of the season were able to run 23 minutes or under!”

Meinerts said getting stronger at the front of the pack could help the Spartan girls get over the hump and make state in the future.

“We need someone to step up and do some serious summer training and be our consistent top runner that is going to go out and try to win every meet, or at least be in the top five,” Meinerts said. “It’s great that we have nine girls that can run 23 minutes or under, and I’m sure a lot of teams would love to have that. But if we want to accomplish some of our preseason goals we need to get someone that runs in the 20s.”

Houge and Fricke led Collins-Maxwell individually throughout the season.

Houge’s fastest 5-kilometer time was 22:03.4 and she finished 30th at the qualifying meet. Her best place was third at both the home meet and West Marshall.

Fricke led the Spartans at the qualifying meet for the second year in a row by placing 19th with a season-best time of 22:00.4. Her best place was fifth at both the home meet and West Marshall.

Arianna Davis stepped up as the third runner for Collins-Maxwell this season. Davis came in 12th at the conference meet and 20th at the qualifying meet, where she finished 20th just behind Fricke in 22:00.6.

Morgan Day was also up with Collins-Maxwell’s top group. Day took 11th at the ISC meet and 33rd at the qualifying meet with a season-best effort of 22:25.2.

Seniors Mikayla Houge and Olivia Pasquariello also vied for a top-five spot at most meets.

Mikayla was 15th at the ISC meet, 56th at the qualifying meet and her best time was 22:42 at North Polk. Pasquariello came in 16th at conference and 41st at the qualifying meet, where she peaked in 22:56.4.

“Olivia and Mikayla will be missed a bunch next year,” Meinerts said. “Their leadership is tremendous and our team next year will have to have someone step up and take over. These two are great individuals and will be amazing in whatever they choose after high school.”

Ashlyn Davis came on late in the season for Collins-Maxwell. She ran a 51st-place time of 23:16.1 at the qualifying meet.

Meyaurah Pratt also ran varsity, taking 28th at the ISC meet in 25:51 and 53rd at North Polk in a season-best time of 23:53.

“I think freshmen Ashlyn Davis and Meyaurah Pratt learned a lot this year,” Meinerts said. “Both improved by three to four minutes from their first meet of the year to the end of the season.”

Marissa Boege ran a 24:28 at West Marshall and a 25:10 at the home meet for Collins-Maxwell. Leah Davis topped at at 25:29 at North Polk.

With only losing two runners to graduation and having the top four back, Collins-Maxwell has a chance to break through and make state in 2020.

“We have high expectations again!” Meinerts said. “We have eight girls returning and I hope to finish the season running at Fort Dodge next year.”

The Collins-Maxwell boys welcomed Madrid transfer Kyle Vanderwal to go along with youngsters Ethan Haus and Hunter Lee in 2019. They joined top returning runners Jacob Pierick, Joshua Sievert, Daniel Klein, Carter Davis and Carter Merryman to make the Spartan boys a team that constantly finished in the top half of the team standings.

“We were way more competitive than the past couple of years,” Meienrts said. “These boys had a great attitude each and every day and looked forward to getting better.”

The Spartan boys picked up its first ever meet win at the Spartan Early Bird meet. Along with the strong showing at the home meet they placed second out of 12 teams at the conference meet, coming in just nine points behind Valley Lutheran with a score of 78.

Collins-Maxwell also ended up third at West Marshall, fifth and Pella and sixth at North Polk. The Spartans had their best qualifying-meet effort as well, taking ninth out of 27 teams with 312 points despite having Pierick out with an injury and Vanderwal just coming back from a concussion.

“The boys set tough to reach goals for each meet and then went out there and ran hard trying to reach those goals,” Meinerts said. “Work ethic by each and every runner was top notch!! Everyone came to practice and worked hard each and every day.”

Vanderwal was the top runner for the boys. He took second at both the conference and home meets, seventh at West Marshall and 41st at the qualifying meet.

Vanderwal’s top 5-kilometer time was 18:30 at West Marshall.

Pierick placed sixth at the home meet and 19th at conference and his fastest time was 19:08 at North Polk. Sievert came in 14th at the ISC meet and 44th at the qualifying meet and his best time was 19:17 at North Polk.

Haus finished 12th at West Marshall in a season-best time of 19:14. He also was 20th at conference and 63rd at the qualifying meet.

Lee was 28th at the ISC meet and 105th at the qualifying meet. His best time was 20:03 at West Marshall, where he finished 22nd.

Klein took 23rd at the ISC meet and ran a season-best time of 19:48.7 at the qualifying meet to place 67th. Davis peaked at 22:22 at conference and he ran a 22:30.7 at the qualifying meet and Merryman ran 23 minutes flat at North Polk and a 23:33 at the qualifying meet.

“We lose Carter Davis, Carter Merryman, and Daniel,” Meinerts said. “These guys always came to practice and continued to get better at every meet. Both Carter’s ran four years in high school, and Daniel ran for the Spartans for two years.”

With everyone else back the Collins-Maxwell boys have a chance to achieve some big things next season.

“This team is built for a solid run at state next year,” Meinerts said. “If we keep everyone healthy all summer and the season, and if they train the right way next summer, they could be set up for an amazing season next year.”