It wasn’t the showing that junior Michael Rowe wanted, but he’s still on the right track.
“C’mon Michael, crank it up!” head coach Tyler Ketelsen said as Rowe swung around for his last lap of the night.
Earlier, Rowe placed fourth in the two mile, now he was running the 800 for the last leg of the distance medley relay.
The miles were collecting under Rowe’s legs and he knew it. His head tilted slightly back and his teeth showed as he pushed out his final breaths down the last straight, pumping his arms for what little speed he had left.
“I was physically just worn out, but that’s the plan though,” Rowe said. “I’ll rest next week.”
Rowe leads by example as Mason City’s top distance runner. His best chance to qualify for state is in the two mile, but he’ll go where he’s needed for another race or two.
Knowing his role, Rowe started training for track season two weeks after a trip to state cross country. Even through the prolonged winter weather, Rowe didn’t lose his fitness.
“He’s an incredibly hard worker, he does everything right, everything that I ask of him it’s never a lack of effort on his part,” Ketelsen said.
Running the last leg of the distance medley wasn’t just about placing for the team, though, it was to get him to improve his speed on those final two laps of his two mile.
“Michael has been doing a lot of running and the plan there with that is to really get him ready for next week,” Ketelsen said. “So I know he’s a little disappointed in his time, but we talked about how the big one is next week and he’s got a good strategy.”
Rowe’s best two mile race this season was ten minutes and three seconds, but he wants to hit the 9:40-mark.
He admittedly exhausted from his training, but disappointed in his performance. That's the plight of a distance runner; it’s time to taper off and rest before he tries to qualify for state.
He leans over the fencing after the distance medley, which took third. He’s done for the night, talking to his supporters.
When asked for an interview, he offers to hop the fence. Despite suggestions to walk around, so he doesn’t hurt himself, Rowe climbs over.
As a junior, Rowe is the spokesperson of the cross country and track teams.
“I’m physically ready to run with those Johnston kids next week,” Rowe said. “My legs just got to me those last two laps.”