Putting the Pieces Together

After a series of illnesses, the boys cross-country team is patiently waiting to run all of the key members of the varsity team together in order to accomplish their goals for the season.


Simeon Smith

Eric Thomas ’18 competes during the Bud Williams Classic on September 28th.

Addy Smith, Sports Editor

The boys cross-country team has yet to run their entire line-up together. Their biggest challenge this season has been staying healthy enough to compete, and at the same time.

“It’s just getting our core group of guys training together and competing in meets together. We’re just trying, like any other team, to stay healthy. If we can keep all of our guys running well, and healthy, I think we have a chance to do amazing things,” Head Coach Jayme Skay said.

Although they haven’t had a chance to show it yet, the team believes that when they are able to finally run together that they have the ability to do some damage.

“We have a solid group of guys that could turn some heads when we really bring it all together,” Quenton Max ‘18 said.

Despite changing line-ups and struggles to acquire consistency, the team’s goals haven’t changed.

“We want to beat West, that’s a huge one. We always want to beat them. But we want to get podium at state, and we just want to do better than last year,” Caden Turnbough ‘20 said.

In order to place at the state meet in late October, the team will first need to get through the conference. Prairie placed third at state in 2016, West came in fifth, and CR Washington nabbed seventh; all members of the Mississippi Valley Conference.

“Well we know that at state that we’ll have probably five to eight of our teams in the Mississippi Valley Conference in the state meet and placing high. So I have no doubt that we’re in the toughest conference in the state, overall. But we’re feeling very good,” Skay said. “If we can hang with [teams like] Cedar Falls and Linn-Mar, and West High, I think our future’s looking very bright.”

Senior Quenton Max has been a contributing member of the varsity squad since his freshman year. Max has unfinished business and wants to do everything he can to guarantee that it becomes finished business.

“I put in a huge summer milage base in preparation for this season, logging 608 miles over eleven weeks. I’ve also been averaging around 60 miles per week for the past ten weeks,” Max said. “I know this is my last season of cross country and I want to do anything and everything I can to ensure that it’s a great one.”

Running alongside guys like Michael Berg and Matthew Dodge since his freshman year, Max also has to adjust to their absences this year.

“It still feels a little weird to be in this position after three years of looking up to those guys. The performance [aspect] came as a product of hard work, but the leadership took a bit longer to learn,” Max said.

Coach Skay thinks the seniors have amplified their efforts in order to fill the shoes of last season’s strong leaders.

“I think [that our team] has come together. After last year we lost some very good leadership and our seniors have really stepped up. We’re really strong in our freshman, and sophomore, and junior classes, and the seniors have done a great job, so I think that’s been of the best things that we’ve done this year,” Skay said.

Although the team is currently struggling with consistency, an integral part of their success is the depth they are able to bring to each meet, thanks to vast underclassmen representation.

“I would say if we ran ten runners at all of our varsity meets and scored seven that we would probably be one of the top teams in the state,” Skay said. “We may not have your top one or two, or three individuals in the state, but we have a group of about seven or eight guys that are so strong, and run very good times, that as a group of ten they could dominate.”

One of those underclassmen, sophomore Caden Turnbough, has consistently led the varsity team from the front this season.

“Last year I was a freshman coming on as one of the lower guys on a team with three seniors. Last year I wanted to make my name known and this year I wanted to build off that and become one of the top runners this year. It’s been a big transition from last year,” Turnbough said.

Like Max, Turnbough has cranked up the mileage and intensity of his workouts in the off-season, in order to help his team achieve their goals.

“We want to win and do as best we can. We’re up there, and we want to stay up there,” Turnbough said.