It was a windy day of good competition at the Mason City cross country meet, but it was all in good company.
Charles City girls kicked off the varsity competition with a 1-2-3 sweep. Freshman Kiki Connell finished at the top with a time of 20:38.2, junior Whitney Martin and sophomore Mackenzy Bilharz took the second and third spots with times of 20:39.8 and 21:41.5.
“I ran here over the summer,” Connell said. “I came to the NIACC distance academy. I kind of know this a little bit, I kind of knew the straightaways and stuff and it helped having Whitney because we’re so used to running together that it helps when the other person.”
“Just knowing that I have someone beside me and whenever I get down she pushes me and I push her and we just work together,” Martin said.
Besides each other, Connell, Martin and Bilharz express they have added motivation to run this year. It’s written on their calves, “Luft Tuff,” in honor of 15-year-old Logan Luft, who passed away after an ATV accident this summer.
“He ran up at NIACC distance academy, too,” Connell said. “So this really means a lot, ribbons, green hair ties.”
The Charles City girls placed first overall with five top-10 finishers.
“They work hard every day in practice and we set realistic goals, but aim high as well so it’s fun to see our hard work get noticed,” Head coach Amanda Rahmiller said.
On the heels of Bilharz was Mason City sophomore Hannah Thomas in fourth with a time of 21:46.8. She contributed her top finish to training on hills, making the flat course seem easier despite the wind.
“I felt like I was running a lot faster than I was, but it is what it is,” Thomas said. “Our team worked really well together, we each pushed each other, kind of at the same level, so I’m really proud of how we did today.”
The Mason City girls would claim second overall as a team behind Charles City, claiming three top-10 finishers.
“I was really pleased to see Hannah step up and be our top finisher like that,” head coach Tyler Ketelsen said. “She’s been coming along nicely all season and she’s looking a lot stronger, running a lot stronger and nice to see her hard work pay off tonight as the first finisher for Mason City.”
The Mason City boys edged out Charles City for second overall in the team standings behind Waverly-Shell Rock.
Junior Mason Deeter surprised the crowd with a third-place finish at 17:49.4, the top placing for the Comets.
“We’re a young team still kind of learning the 5K distance,” Charles City coach Ryan Rahmiller said. “I thought Mason Deeter had a gutsy race today. He’s kind of pushing his limits and seeing what he can do.”
Deeter edged out Mason City junior Michael Rowe and senior teammate Gavin Connell.
“I think I just had a mentally tough race,” Deeter said. “Came in hoping to stick with a fellow teammate and hoping to get a couple of Waverly kids…It was good, we’ve got some friendly competitiveness on the team between our top three, it was fun, we push each other.”
The comradery crossed team lines on the boys’ side as Mason City junior Michael Rowe edged out Charles City senior Gavin Connell for the fourth and fifth placings.
“I’ve been battling with Gavin every meet this year and it’s been fun,” Rowe said. “He’s a really nice guy, good to get him this time.”
Connell and Rowe met this summer at the Charles City Firecracker 5K through mutual friend and senior Mohawks runner Jack Phillips, whom took eighth overall. Rowe made it one of his goals going into the meet to beat Connell.
“Michael and I have been talking a lot and I’m like, ‘Hey you’ve got to beat me dude, you’ve got to beat me one of these races,’” Connell said. “This race he looked good throughout the whole thing and he really got me about the 2 mile and then took off. I knew he was going to get up there, so I thought it was cool to see.”
Connell has accepted the team aspect of cross country more over the years, as a senior, it’s now his main focus.
“Mason Deeter, honestly today, if I were talking a year ago I’d probably be disappointed,” Connell said. “But today I’m really happy he got me, good to see two underclassmen to step up and place high…why dwell on what I did when I can be excited for what my teammates have done? I really want to get my whole team to state, the past two years it’s been me along on the line and I’d like to see some underclassmen experience that state meet in Fort Dodge.”
IOWA CITY – Akrum Wadley’s high-stepping days are history.
As the Iowa football team prepares for Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. Big Ten opener against fourth-ranked Penn State, the Hawkeye senior says he is working on a new game plan for the next time he carries the football into the Kinnick Stadium end zone.
“I’m going to walk over and hand the official the football," Wadley said.
He wishes he would have done that Saturday, when a couple of high steps near the end of what would have been a 74-yard scoring play drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and negating what would have been Iowa’s first touchdown of the day.
Wadley said Tuesday he wasn’t trying to taunt anybody, just simply trying to finish off a big play the same way he has on multiple occasions since high school.
“I was shocked when I found out there was a flag. I didn’t even see it," Wadley said. “I have been doing that for my whole career. I’ve always been doing that."
Late in the first quarter of the Hawkeyes’ 31-14 win over North Texas, Iowa found itself in a third-and-9 situation at its own 26-yard line when quarterback Nate Stanley hit Wadley with a pass in the right flat.
Wadley turned upfield and quickly found himself running alone, giving him room to take a couple of high steps once he was inside the 10-yard line on his way to the end zone.
The flag flew, the touchdown was called back and the penalty left Wadley with a 68-yard reception and Iowa with the football at the 21.
Wadley didn’t learn about the penalty until he returned to the sideline after the play where coach Kirk Ferentz traded the usually handshakes for an earful of advice.
“Coach stopped me. He’s usually shaking everybody’s hands and he didn’t shake mine," Wadley said. “I was just shocked. They just took the touchdown back? I’ve been doing that for years. I didn’t know they could do that."
Wadley didn’t return to the field for the rest of that series or the next one, calling the whole situation unfortunate.
“You work hard all season and you just want to have fun out there," Wadley said. “It is what it is. Rules are rules."
Wadley found it a little curious that his high stepping drew a penalty while North Texas players weren’t penalized for waving fingers in a quieting motion toward the Iowa crowd after the Mean Green’s first touchdown.
“Call it both ways," Wadley said.
Ferentz counted that among the lessons learned in Saturday’s game, not only for Wadley but for the entire team.
The Iowa coach found himself taking a look at the rule book for a little clarity.
“It’s pretty clearly stated, but obviously it’s not clearly enforced," Ferentz said. “That’s the issue because I think we’ve seen acts similar to that and I don’t by any means think he was taunting anyone or trying to show anybody up."
Ferentz now uses the moment as a teaching opportunity.
“It is in the rule book that it could be called, so we all learn a lesson, all of us," Ferentz said. “I think we’ve learned it’s probably not going to be enforced real consistently, too, so why leave the door open for something to be called against you? We all have to be a little smarter in that regard."
Wadley said he won’t let it happen again.
“Not a chance," he said. “I can still hear coach Brian (Ferentz) in my ear. I was in class, I could hear him. That’s all they’ve been talking about all week, high stepping."
Wadley welcomes the opportunity to prove that he has curbed his enthusiasm this week.
After returning to the North Texas game, he exited with an ankle injury after eight carries, something he said happened “when a big guy fell on it."
The injury was slight and Wadley said he will be more than ready for the first night game of the season and the challenge presented by the defending Big Ten champions.
“I’m ready, feeling good," Wadley said. “I’ll be good to go."
With back-up James Butler sidelined through mid-October with an elbow injury, Ferentz said Wadley will share the workload with back-ups Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin.
“Our plan will be to utilize all three and the good news is that the other two did a good job Saturday," Ferentz said. “It was a good chance to for them to get their feet wet and do some good things. They’ve got to plan on playing, they are in there now, and we’re going to be better if we can use all three guys."
MANLY – The Central Springs volleyball team has seemingly flown under the radar this season, but entering a Top of Iowa Conference East Division matchup against Northwood-Kensett on Tuesday, the Panthers were riding a streak of nine wins in their previous 10 matches en route to a 14-5 overall record.
Central Springs did not let up any against the Lady Vikings as they coasted to a 3-0 win.
Set scores were 25-11, 25-13 and 25-19.
“We are still growing,” Panthers coach Ron Pedersen said. “But practice is more fun when you win.”
Central Springs took control of each of the first two sets very quickly as it bolted out to double-digit advantages.
N-K, though, put together a solid effort in the third set, but the Panthers managed to come up with six of the final eight points to pull away late.
One reason for Central Springs’ recent hot streak has been players settling into their new roles after some early-season shuffling.
Morgan Kelley, who started the season as one of the main front-line options for the Panthers, moved to a libero role, and the move has ultimately stabilized the back line play.
Kelley finished with 32 digs and was 17-of-17 serving.
“Morgan is solid,” Pedersen said. “She makes our back row so much better. She loves it back there.”
Hannah Ausenhus also had a strong outing as she racked up 16 kills and was 14-of-14 serving with a pair of aces.
Kaylee Parks had 32 assists and 13 digs for the Panthers.
With the win, the Panthers improve to 5-1 in conference play with the lone loss coming to Osage early in the season.
Central Springs has a week off before traveling to Newman Catholic on Tuesday.
Northwood-Kensett (5-14) returns home to face St. Ansgar on Tuesday.
MASON CITY — With a solid Nos. 1, 2 and 3 golfers already in the mix, the challenge for the Mason City boys golf team this season has been finding those next couple of guys to drop low scores to match. Once that happens, they believe they have at least a shot at a state-tournament berth if everything lines up.
On Tuesday in a dual vs. Urbandale, the Mohawks pieced another bit of that together when No. 4 golfer Evan Lynch was the low man in the Mohawks’ 160-169 victory.
“I was just pleased that he was playing like he can because we haven’t really seen that yet,” Mason City coach Jim Cornick said of Lynch’s round. “Our Top 3 have been playing pretty well – J.J. (Wickman), Pete (Stadheim) and Brad (Vaith) – and we just need one of those (other) three to get in the 80s for us to round out a good, solid score. Evan, for him to go low tonight at our last home meet was really awesome to see.”
For Lynch, whose previous low 9-hole round of the season was a 40, it was a good time for him to put forth his best round – a one-over par 36 on the home course at Highland Park Golf Course.
His round included just one bogey, which came on the par 4 fourth hole, and he scored par on each of the other eight.
“I was hitting my tee shots good and I was approaching the greens really well, but my putting was a little off,” Lynch said.
With one week to go until the conference meet next Wednesday, and then districts to follow, Lynch is happy about where he’s at.
“I’m hoping that I can just continue this because my play has been kind of rough this year and I want to continue this through districts,” he said.
After Lynch’s 37, Stadheim fired a 39, Wickman shot 41 and Vaith chipped in a 43 to round out the scoring. Tanner Hanson and Dylan Pedersen shot non-counting rounds of 50 and 52, respectively.
The Mohawks compete at the CIML meet next Wednesday at The Legacy Golf Club in Norwalk, and then travel to Ames for the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 3.
“We’re going to have to probably throw down a 310 at Veenker to make it as third-place team,” Cornick said. “We’ve been in this situation before, but I think this is the year that I think we’re going to put down a good score and hope that it holds in.”