L-S Cross-Country wraps up fantastic season at state

Photo: Gruver races to the awards deck, Smock finishes in the top 20, and Norrish and Morningstar both claim 57th place

Four Lynnville-Sully Cross-Country runners raced at the state cross-country meet at Kennedy Park in Fort Dodge on Friday, Oct. 28. Seniors Greenlee Smock, James Gruver, Zach Morningstar, and sophomore Olivia Norrish traveled to the event to run under beautiful weather conditions in a morning race. With such nice weather, thousands of spectators were able to cheer on their respective runners with the final stretch of the course filled with fans, making it a fun and exciting race.

Smock, four-time state qualifier, placed 19th in the 5K in 20:02.28. Her first mile was not an indicator of her finish as she ended the first mile in 48th place in 6:30.09. She was able to gain 19 spots in the second mile, running it consistently in 6:33.97 as she found the determination to keep battling. Coming around the final turn and into a long finishing stretch, she was behind a small group of runners, so she pushed on the gas and made it to the finish, running her last mile in 6:58.22.

While her season personal record was 19:47 clocked at Ahrens Park in Grinnell in August, Smock still ran a phenomenal final race as an L-S Hawk. The field of competition at this year’s meet was highly talented, making it difficult for Smock to finish in the top 15 to be an all-stater again, causing some disappointment. “She finished 19th in a time that oddly enough was her second-fastest time at state, and yet it wasn’t good enough to be top 15 this year. She ran 19:49 as a freshman (10th place), 20:14 as a sophomore (11th place), 20:09 as a junior (13th place). So, that gives some perspective as to the competition this year,” said coach Darin Arkema. A few successes in the race were breaking the 20 minute mark, as well as defeating a Twin Cedars competitor who had beaten her previously in other state meets.

Norrish raced at her first state cross-country meet over the weekend, finishing 57th in 21:14.26. She got out of the starting line well, completing her first mile in 6:37 at a solid position in 62nd place. There are several bumps in the course, and she navigated those well to push her further into the race. Throughout the chase, she drove her arms, and kept her eyes up on the competition in front of her. In the second mile, she gained three spots, running it in 6:55.71. Gaining two more spots in the final mile to finish in the top third of the runners, she ran a split of 7:41.33, clocking herself a new season personal record by three seconds.

With a season goal of running his 5K in 6:45, Gruver was not far off as he made a phenomenal new personal 5K record at the meet in 16:49.29. His previous season record was set at the district meet on Oct. 20 in 17:22. At the gun, he got in a good position, not too fast, but at a solid pace. At the first mile, Gruver was in a good position in 17th where he was racing at a 5:17.17 pace. He stayed with the same group of runners as the race progressed. He found himself a few more places back in 23rd at the second mile as the hills of the race picked up. He was able to run his second mile in a 5:38.73 split. At the final stretch, especially in the final 400 meters, he dashed by a handful of guys to secure a top-15 finish. With a 14th-place finish, he saw himself on the presentation deck for the awards ceremony, earning a medal and the honor of being all-state. In his accomplishment, he is the second boy in L-S School history to qualify individually three times for the state meet and possibly the only boy to medal and earn all-state honors.

“From his earliest years all the way through, he has yet to show me that when a big moment comes, he isn’t going to go out and give it his absolute best and rise to the occasion. He too had to overcome injury and setback, and some of the doubts or worries regarding how strong he would be returning and what that did for his chances to make state or place at state. But he stayed the course, kept working, and in his third and final trip to state, achieved a great accomplishment,” said Arkema.

Morningstar raced in his second state meet, finishing 89th at the 2021 meet. He had a solid performance with a 57th place finish in 17:49.51. Early in the race, he found himself behind a lot of guys as the race was fast at the gun, finding it tricky to set his own pace. At the first mile, he found himself in 86th place at a 5:37 mile race pace as gaps of runners started to spread, allowing him to get through several packs. Even after going around a tight downhill curve and sliding on the slick, dewy grass, he bounced right back up and kept his sights on those in front of him. At the second mile, he made big strides to be in 62nd place and racing at 5:47.13. Going into the long, final stretch toward the finish, he was seesawing one of two other races, and while he was ultimately passed by a few other competitors, he finished his season under 18 minutes with a nearly one-minute improvement from his race at state last year.


Comments are closed.