It was a dandy debut for Lake Mills’ Carson Rygh at the Class 1A state cross country meet last year.

As a freshman, Rygh found success immediately with a 16th-place finish in 17:14.2, one position away from being a medalist. It’s that finish that drives him to strive to be even better this year.

“I was really happy to go to state as a freshman,” Rygh said. “My goal was to place in the top 15 and medal and it was kind of disappointing being 16th and that close to medaling. That’s really driven me over this last year and over the summer to train harder and push harder so I’ll hopefully not be disappointed like that again.”

If last Tuesday’s start to his season in a meet at Newman was any indication, Rygh, the eighth-ranked runner in 1A, is off to a flying start.

The sophomore place third in the race behind top-ranked (2A) Reece Smith of Garner-Hayfield-Ventura and Clear Lake’s Sam Pedelty. It wasn’t so much about where he placed, though. It was the time he ran so early in the season as he completed the five-kilomter course in 16 minutes, 39.6 seconds.

“My goal is to hit 16:30 and I’m close right now,” Rygh said. “That’s my time goal, and my place goal is I want to get eighth at state and go with my ranking.”

Clear Lake’s Jones on the rebound

Clear Lake senior Gretchen Jones had all the looks of a four-time state qualifier after making it in each her freshman and sophomore years. But Jones took a step back last season as she failed to make it through for the Lions.

Jones says that her team has worked more on the warm-up scheme, helping her feel more loose for the race. Last year’s district wasn’t her best performance, so she hopes she can improve each meet for a shot at redemption and a state appearance.

“I like to compare my times from last year,” Jones said. “So, I try every meet to beat whatever I ran on that course last year. Last year at districts I ran a really bad race and I just didn’t feel good at all, so hopefully not have that happen again and can make it back to state.”

Last Tuesday’s meet at Newman Catholic, and a meet the prior week in Hampton, have provided her a couple of good opportunities to head back in that direction.

Jones crossed the finish in seventh at the Newman Invite last Tuesday with a time of 22:04.2.

“It was good, it’s always a hot one here,” Jones said. “So, I don’t really look forward to that, but it’s nice and flat, so it’s a fast course.”

— Leah Vann contributed to the article

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