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Meling 10th, Mustangs ninth

November 13, 2016
Reinbeck Courier

FORT DODGE The goal was to improve on last year's eighth-place team finish for the East Marshall boys' cross country team. And despite that not happening with a ninth-place finish in Class 2A at this year's Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course, senior Nick Meling said this year's campaign was absolutely a success.

"I think it was a great success," Meling said. "We lost our second-best runner [Josh Terrones] since he went out for football. We had one of our top seven runners have back surgery, so he wasn't varsity when he got back; he didn't have the time to get back where he was. We lost two of our seven runners, and on top of that I was injured for part of the season. But everybody held their ground and ran their hearts out."

Meling rolled through in his final high school cross country race in 10th place with a time of 16 minutes, 52.4 seconds. The senior harrier missed a third of the season to shin pains and injury, and has been working to get back into peak physical condition since.

It's been two years since the Mustangs and Meling won the state title in Class 2A, and this season was the fifth consecutive go the Mustangs have had as a team at the state meet.

With two of the top five runners gone in graduation in May, Meling said the pieces are lining up for historic run to continue on long after he's gone.

"I know we have leaders for next year," Meling said. "Cam [Hungerford] dropped over a minute; he's not far behind and he's a sophomore. Everybody is stepping up and that's what it's going to take to keep the tradition going."

Paden Lang, East Marshall's other senior, was fifth on the team and 97th overall (18:26.9). Hungerford was through in 34th (17:27.8) and Seth Kilborn was in 69th (18:00).

West Marshall was represented by junior Edison Weig for his third-straight appearance. Weig was an individual qualifier in 2015, placing 39th (17:38.8) and led the 15th-place team in 2014 (78th, 18:39.7).

This year, the junior clocked a 17:30.9, his best state appearance time, and was 36th overall. Weig said that state meet is always tricky in the fact everyone is starting out fast. With 140 of the best runners in Class 2A racing at the same time, there's no telling what can happen in between the first and third miles.

"I always get out so fast, and my mentality was two miles defines the race," Weig said. "I did exactly that. And a lot of people slowed down that second mile and I just started picking people up. Some people went back and forth with me, but that always happens. Overall, it was a really great race."

In his final race in a West Marshall uniform, Weig gave a majority of credit to his teammates and coaches. Weig will be transferring to Nevada High School at the end of the year, but still expects to be back at the state meet next fall.

"I just want to thank all my coaches, my friends and my fellow athletes," Weig said. "They did so much for me and I really owe them that, especially my parents. What really bothers me is this is my last time running for West Marshall. I'm transferring to Nevada, but I just want to thank everybody from West Marshall for everything they've done for me. Without them, I wouldn't be the person I am."

Senior Dylan Hendricks crossed the finish line for the final time in his high school career, improving to a personal-best 25th-place (17:19.2) finish, improving on last year's 48th-place (17:45.4) finish.

Hendricks said Saturday's race was the perfect conclusion to an otherwise storied career for the Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck runner.

"I've been working at this for about six years now, since middle school, so I've become accustomed to running my own race," Hendricks said. "It's been pretty great. There's been a fair share of challenges along the way, but it's been working at that and doing that with a team that makes it such a great sport."

Hendricks said after a much-needed ice bath, the senior runner will join his team for one final bonding activity: A haunted house tour. It was moments and activities like these that made Hendricks have such an admiration for the sport.

"While I've loved the journey, I'm excited it's coming to an end with high school now," Hendricks said. "But I'm so glad to have had it. It's been a great experience."

South Hardin also had its first state representative at the state cross country meet since 2012. Jacob Vander Wilt came through in 75th place (18:04.2) on Saturday.

Vander Wilt is only a sophomore, and will most likely be back at the state meet barring any issues come next fall.

The last time South Hardin had its name posted on the state results sheet was in 2012 when John Stanish (64th, 17:34) and Tim Rose (70th, 17:39) qualified as individuals for the Tigers.



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