FORT DODGE - Johnny Fuller ran to Glenwood's first ever individual state cross country championship and the Rams' placed seventh in the team standings at the Iowa State Cross Country meet held on Saturday at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
In some of the closest scoring of the day, Dubuque Wahlert was the team champion with 118 team points, followed by runner up Knoxville (122) and Boone (134). The Rams, who entered state ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, finished with 148 points. Just 30 points separated first place from sixth place.
“Jitters might have got to some of them,” said Glenwood coach Todd Peverill of his team’s lower than expected finish. “But that happens. That’s the reason why you race it.”
Fuller, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A all season, hung in a pack of a half-dozen runners the first half of the race before starting his surge with a little over a mile left in the race. Fuller pulled ahead and never looked back until crossing the finish line five seconds ahead of runner-up Ryan McMahon of Algona. McMahon was also the runner-up to Fuller at the district meet last week.
“We weren’t there team-wise,” said Fuller. “But a lot of kids stepped up in the course of the season and there’s just so much you can ask. It’s tough. And if you’re not having a great day or you’re having a perfect day, like today I felt really good, it can work out.”
Mark Abrams ran a 16:43 to place 14th and Kyle Wheeler was 30th in 17:09. Both runners, ranked No. 7 and No.8, respectively, entering state and among Glenwood’s three individual qualifiers, were both off their times. Those precious seconds ended up costing the Rams, said Peverill.
“Abrams and Wheeler were a little behind where I thought they were going to be,” the coach said. “Abrams said he went out a little quick and couldn’t hang in there. Johnny ran an extremely fast race. Our fifth, sixth and seventh runners were about where I thought they’d be, I was hoping for a little higher but overall, it was good performance for us.”
Jordan Krug finished 49th, Jakob Rhodes 87th, Jeff Reeve 108th and Justin Sunderman 110th to complete the Ram scoring.
Fuller admits he’s a little biased, but he regards this Class 3A bunch of runners as perhaps the strongest in the state.
“There were six teams that could have won state, depending on who was on today,” he said.
Dubuque Wahlert was also the girls champion, edging Decorah 79 to 92 in team points. Anna Holdiman of Waverly-Shell Rock was the individual champion with a time of 14:22.
Glenwood girls’ qualifier Carlie Cooper used a sprinter-like kick over the final 500 meters to place 16th at her first ever state meet. Cooper’s finish is the third highest in Glenwood history at the state meet and the highest since the state went to the 4000-meter race. Her time of 15:17 sets the school record for the Fort Dodge Course by 51 seconds.
“It was a great race,” said Glenwood girls assistant coach Eric Rasmussen. “She came in ranked 21st and she placed 16th. She ran the same race she always does. You saw a few girls pass her over the final 800 meters so you worry about how she’s doing, but you know she knows what she’s doing.”
Cooper’s kick has become a bit of a trademark this season, added Rasmussen.
“That’s what she does,” he said. “She slowly works her way up, hangs in there and turns it on. She’s got a sprinter’s speed a lot of distance runners don’t have. She just ran excellent.”
The freshman, who is Glenwood’s first girls individual qualifier since 2005, couldn’t really explain where her tendency to surge late comes from
“I don’t know where it comes from, I’ve just always had that kick,” said Cooper.
There was no bigger cheerleader for the Cooper than senior captain Kayla Anderson. Anderson didn’t qualify for state but that didn’t stop her from cheering on her teammate every inch of the race.
“I’m extremely proud of her. I’m so glad I had her on my team to be a part of state,” said Anderson.