Increased numbers have created an increased amount of excitement for the 2019 Clarinda cross country season.
The Cardinals have a total of 22 runners out for the high school program with 11 athletes on both the boys’ and girls’ teams. Clarinda head coach Jane Mayer said this is the first time the Cardinals have been able to field a full girls’ squad since the 2009 season.
“It is going to be really nice to have a varsity and junior varsity team, and they are going to be competitive. We have some athletes here, so it’s going to be exciting,” Mayer said.
Anchoring the Clarinda lineup will be sophomore Ashlyn Eberly. She was a state qualifier for the Cardinals last season as a freshman.
“For the past three years we’ve had one athlete run at state. We would like to have more than that qualify this year,” Mayer said.
Clarinda also has two new seniors joining the girls’ team this year in Riley Holmstrom and Tatiana Schaapherder. Junior Maddie Sunderman has also joined the team.
Sophomore Molly Lihs is also running cross country for the first time this year. Isabelle Smith is returning for her sophomore season after missing her freshman campaign with a knee injury. Smith ran cross country in seventh and eighth grade.
The final five members of the Clarinda girls’ lineup are all freshmen. They include Keely Boltinghouse, Phoebe Garrett, Mayson Hartley, Hannah Milleson and Skyler Ned. Boltinghouse is running cross country for the first time, while the other four athletes ran cross country at Clarinda Middle School.
Meanwhile, the Clarinda boys’ team is led by two returning letter winners. Those runners are juniors Jordan Fasnacht and Jon McCall.
Also returning are sophomores Mark Everett, Brayden Hayes and Michael Mayer. They are expected to compete for spots in the varsity lineup this year.
Connor Pullen and Grant Van Nostrand, both juniors, also return to the team this year. They have been involved in the program since seventh grade.
Clarinda also has four freshmen out for the boys’ program this year. They are Luke Baker, Nathan King, Ronnie Weidman and Alec Wyman.
“Our freshman class, on both the boys’ and girls’ side, is loaded,” Mayer said.
Clarinda prepared for the season with a demanding summer program that started in June. Workouts were held from 6-8 a.m. Monday through Friday. New Clarinda head football coach Collin Bevins developed a strength program specifically for the cross country runner. He also oversaw a program that focused on enhancing the speed and flexibility of athletes, while preventing injuries.
Clarinda also had 28 runners attend the Bridge 23 Running Camp. The camp was held June 8-9 in Norwalk.
“We had more kids involved in our summer program than we ever have. To be involved five days a week, to me, that is a strong commitment. It tells me they are determined, dedicated and really want to make a difference this season,” Mayer said.
Mayer was also able to attend the Glazier Clinic in Kansas City. The clinic focused on the development of training programs for cross country and track runners that can be utilized throughout the entire year maintain conditioning.
In addition, all of the female coaches at Clarinda High School were encouraged to attend the She Coaches Iowa clinic held in Des Moines. The clinic dealt with supporting other female coaches and encouraging more women to become coaches.
“Our activities director, Josh Porter, has been a huge help to the sports programs. He has made it possible for the coaches to attend clinics and workshops like these to learn information specific to our sport to improve our coaching methods,” Mayer said.
The summer workouts led into the annual preseason camp for the Cardinals held during the week of Aug. 5. Formal practices then started Monday, Aug. 12.
Clarinda opened the season with an early bird meet Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Shenandoah. The annual Clarinda meet will be held a week later than normal this year on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
“Our goals for the program are to have our returning athletes run faster times than last year and be more competitive in the Hawkeye 10 Conference,” Mayer said.
Mayer said the perennial favorites in the conference are Glenwood. She said Harlan is also traditionally strong in the girls’ division and Red Oak is always competitive in the boys’ division.
“My goal is for people to look at our program and have that same respect they have. We want to develop the depth to have a competitive team year in and year out,” Mayer said.