Forest City Cross Country seniors

Lots of seniors are participating in Forest City High School Cross Country this season. (front row, from left) Jacob Welton, Haley Lappe, Thone Golwitzer, Hannah Buffington, Carena Lechuga, and Joesf Kudej. (back row)Zach Lehmann, Ryan Theel, Tanner Greenwood, Matt Petersen, Cole Anderson, Grady Hovenga and Sam Redinger. (Seniors not pictured - Morgan Hobbs and Brandon Finch.)

FOREST CITY | Seniors in cross country at Forest City High School say there's something special going on this year.

"We are more like a family than a team," Carena Lechuga said. "We have something other sports don't."

Both the boys and girls teams are large, with almost everyone back from last year. 

Leadership is one of their strengths, according to Jacob Welton. 

"We have a lot of good upperclassmen," he said.

In addition to an unusually high amount of seniors, there's a lot of talented freshmen and sophomores, or "mini-race cars," as Hannah Buffington calls them.

"It adds to our competitiveness," she said.

The Indians also have a great work ethic and support each other, according to Buffington.

Zachary Lehmann agreed, saying the underclassmen "are performing just great."

Last year, the boys placed third as a team in the West Division of the Top of Iowa Conference, falling short of making it to state.

Ryan Theel said a big goal this year is "making state -- both teams, boys and girls."

Buffington said she wants the girls team to win the conference championship.  

One of the returning seniors is Grady Hovenga, who qualified for state last season as an individual and placed 79th in the 2A state boys cross country meet in Fort Dodge.

Hovenga said the Indians "run together as a team" during meets.

During practice "we are always pushing each other," he said.

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