Roder medals, but Jays fall short of lofty goals at state
FORT DODGE — The Gehlen Catholic boys cross country team entered Saturday’s state meet with lofty goals. They fell short of those goals on a day where things didn’t shake out quite how they had hoped.
“We came into it thinking really positive and knowing we had a chance to do well,” Gehlen Head Coach Margie Augustine said. “Just wasn’t their day I guess. We tried our best and I think everyone gave it their best shot today and I’m proud of their efforts.”
Will Roder finished last season with the third place time and he and Nodaway Valley senior Joshua Baudler, last year’s runner-up, were among the favorites to compete for the title this year. Roder stayed near the front of the pack for a good portion of the race, but it was Baudler who pulled away from the pack at the end and Roder who slipped back to the ninth place spot.
“Will said he couldn’t breathe the last mile very well so that really hindered his performance,” Augustine said. “He’s run better times multiple times this season. Whatever breathing issues he was having at the end, it just wasn’t in the cards for today.”
Roder ended with a time of 16:40. The cutoff for the top 15 to reach the medalist stand was a 16:49 time. Roder’s time was eight seconds slower than last season as an identical time this year would have placed him fourth.
As a team, the Jays also had high hopes of competing for one of the top three spots. The Jays were ranked No. 6 in the final IATC rankings, but finished 13th out of the 15 teams in the final standings. The team also finished behind both of the teams they beat at the state qualifying meet.
Isaac Vaske was the second Gehlen runner. He finished with a time of 17:26 for 33rd. He was in the midst of a pack of 17 runners within 12 seconds starting at the 17:22 mark.
The rest of the Gehlen team ended past the 100th place out of the 142 runner field. Jeff Augustine was 101st with a time of 18:26.
“Isaac, he ran well,” Augustine said. “He was actually almost dead at the end which is unusual for him, so I think he left it all out there. He ran hard. Jeff was next and actually was about the only one who had any gas left in him at the end, so he ran a good race today.”
The next three Gehlen runners finished consecutively in the 114 through 116 spots. Vittorio Ballestrazzi was the first of the three with a time of 18:47. Carver Ruhland was two seconds later. Carson Tesch still wasn’t at 100 percent health as he was the first non-counting time for the Jays at 18:58.
“Carver wasn’t that far behind and Vittorio ran well and was right in there, too,” Augustine said. “Carson’s foot just hurt.”
Gehlen’s last runner was Nathan Nemmers who completed the course in 19:17 for 124th.
While the Jays were 13th in the team standings, it was a fairly close battle after the top four with the fifth through 14th place teams all within 51 points of each other.
Calamus-Wheatland edged out Earlham by one point for the final spot in the top three. Baudler’s winning time of 16:11 helped Nodaway Valley to a runner-up team finish. Madrid secured back-to-back 1A state titles as they were led by individual runner-up Jason Renze who ended in 16:28.
While the state meet ended on a disappointing note for the team, Coach Augustine said there was plenty from this season to look back at and be proud of.
“We had a lot of success,” Augustine said. “We won five meets got second in two meets. We didn’t lose to a single 1A team the whole year until today, so we had a really good season and we have to remember that, too.”
Gehlen will have a rebuild on their hands next season with Roder, Vaske and Tesch all seniors. For the latter two, it was their only season out for cross country.
“They certainly were the driving force in our chance to run at state here, so definitely it was good to have them on the team,” Augustine said. “We don’t even have five guys for a team next year so we’ll definitely be trying to do some recruiting this offseason. When track comes around hopefully we can convince a few freshmen to maybe go out next year for cross country.”
Team scores: Madrid 74, Nodaway Valley 107, Calamus-Wheatland 118, Earlham 119, Maquoketa Valley 209, Denver 211, Council Bluffs St. Albert 215, South Winneshiek 223, West Fork 223, Pekin 227, Tri-Center 232, Ogden 247, Gehlen Catholic 254, Newman Catholic 260, Saint Ansgar 303