The plan was for Carson Rygh to get a “nice, easy run” at Central Springs High School on Thursday. He left the track in Manly as the venue’s record-holder in the 3,200-meter run, finishing in 10:47.16. The previous record was 10:52.89.
“We didn’t know if he’d have anybody who would push him real hard today, we just wanted to get him out,” Lake Mills track coach Dan Rice said.
Rygh, a junior, suffered a quadriceps injury early in the season, but Thursday’s display in the Bulldogs’ first outdoor event of the year showed signs of recovery and dominance. The second-place finisher in the 3,200m, Osage’s Caleb Sledd, finished in 11:19.91.
A two-time state-qualifier, Rygh is looking to make that next step toward the elite tier of runners. Rice said Garner-Hayfield-Ventura’s Reece Smith is in a league of his own, but added there aren’t many runners between Rygh and Smith.
“We want Carson to really chase after that guy, because that’s what he wants to work toward during the next two years,” Rice said.
Rygh also picked up a victory in the 1,600m run, finishing in 4:58.19. Panthers senior Ellis Regan was second at 5:08.53. West Fork’s Noah Maske placed third (5:13.96).
“He’s ready to go now," Rice said of Rygh. "He’s ready to start logging more mileage and start working on his speed and his turnover a little bit and getting ready for some of those bigger races.”
Inclement weather has placed a bit of a damper on track seasons in the past, especially last season. Snow piles up and remains weeks after temperatures rise. When temperatures rise, the snow melts and makes for unworkable conditions on grass and some tracks.
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That circumstance was apparent last year, when many teams were unable to begin competing in outdoor events until late April. Thursday was a welcome change, considering some thought a similar instance would happen this season.
"If we would have had a normal year last year where we ran meets instead of shoveling snow, we maybe would have done a little bit better," Rice said.
West Fork girls coach Ashley Sears was similarly pleased with the team's ability to compete Thursday, which marked the Warhawks' first time running on a track this season. Their home track was covered in snow previously, but as of Thursday, it was too muddy and wet to practice on.
“This is a milder spring so far," Sears said. "This is way better."
Last year's team competed in only five outdoor meets. The decreased volume of competition also made it tough for some of her distance runners to stay conditioned and healthy. When the track is covered with snow, the Warhawks, like many teams, were forced to practice indoors, limiting their options.
One of those distance runners, senior McKenna Weaver, showed no signs of rust Thursday, placing first in two events. She won the 1,500m run in 5:15.49 and the 3,000m run in 13:14.93.
Rygh and Weaver weren't the only North Iowa athletes to post impressive numbers Thursday. Lake Mills junior Logan Prescott dominated in the 100m dash, finishing in 11.72. Second-place finisher Garrett Heagel of Central Springs crossed the line in 12.23.
Fellow Panther Tony Holding won the 200m dash in 24.43 and the 400m in 53.32.
Clear Lake sophomore Justin Wright's time of 2:06.89 was good enough for first in the 800m run.
Reach Sports Reporter Luke A. Garza at 641-421-0540 or follow him on Twitter @LukeAGarza