Freshmen To Watch
November 14, 2019
Everyone has one thing that helps them function, that brings meaning to their life, and they just can’t live without it. For Iris Wedemeyer ‘23, that one thing is running.
“I feel like if I didn’t run, I would not be okay,” Wedemeyer said. “It keeps me sane.”
Wedemeyer participated in triathlons when she was little and ran on her own before participating in cross-country at South East. Her success at elementary track meets sparked her interest in running.
“It makes me feel good to have something that I’m good at,” Wedemeyer said. “[Running has taught me] that my body is strong, and it can do a lot.”
Over the summer, she ran with many of the girls on the team during summer running and really appreciated the team atmosphere.
“It was easy, over the summer, to get to know people and make friends in cross-country. I don’t mean that I wasn’t expecting to make friends, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that easy,” Wedemeyer said.
This season, Wedemeyer has been a consistent third runner on the cross country team. She started the season with a 5k time of 22:03 at the IMS Early Bird Invite on September 3 but has shown rapid improvements since then and ran a time of 19:47 at Mississippi Valley Conference Championships on October 17.
“She’s just a pleasure to coach. She asks good questions and she wants to learn about the sport. She just works so hard, and she’s fast because of it,” head coach Ryan Ahlers said.
One of the biggest differences between junior high and high school cross-country for Wedemeyer is the number of meets throughout the season. This gives her more experience racing.
“I’ve been sort of learning about [mental preparation] as I’m going along,” Wedemeyer said. “I don’t really have a set thing that I do [before races]. I tell myself that I prepared for this, that it is temporary, and that I’m just going to do my best.”
At Districts, Wedemeyer ran a time of 20:18 and placed sixth, making the All-Districts Team. The girls cross-country team placed second overall, qualifying for state.
“She knows that she wants to be as good as she possibly can be. And ultimately, she knows that the better she is, the better the team will be,” Ahlers said. “ I can certainly see her being somebody that’s contending for a really high, high honor, in terms of running.”
Wedemeyer placed 42 at state with a personal record of 19:43. She will try to continue training all year and watch over her health by getting enough sleep, eating good food, and showing up to practice every day.
“I want to keep getting better, keep training consistently, and stay healthy,” Wedemeyer said. “Just keep going strong with the team and pushing myself.”
The roar of the crowd becomes deafening as the match nears the end. Three more seconds, two, one. The referee blows his whistle and Ben Kueter ‘23 slowly gets to his feet. Another match won.
“[I like that wrestling is] an independent sport. It’s all on you,” Kueter said. “You don’t have to rely on other people. You are the one who’s out there.”
Kueter started off wrestling with his brother at home until his parents decided to send them both to City wrestling’s MatPac program when Kueter was four. There he met coach Cory Connell.
“Ben is [a] very hard worker. He’s a kid that loves to do a lot of sports, but he always comes back to wrestling and I think that’s kind of where his true love is,” Connell said. “He loves working hard, he loves learning new things. He just enjoys the process.”
Kueter went on to wrestle at West Liberty and then at Sebolt wrestling club before going to City wrestling practices during his years at South East. The junior high wrestlers are invited to work out with the high school wrestling team and Kueter took advantage of the opportunity.
“I’ve seen him grow since he’s been here. His first year here, I saw him in the program. I have seen him wrestle and have known him ever since then,” Connell said.
Kueter is a five time Iowa Amateur Athletic Union Champion, 2019 Iowa USA Wrestling Triple Crown Winner, 2019 Folkstyle All-American and 2019 United World Wrestling All-American. He is also currently ranked in The Top 50 Freshmen Pound for Pound in the Country by FloWrestling. Kueter is excited to finally be on the City High wrestling team and hopes to win both high school districts and state championships this year.
“I think he is going to fit real well,” Connell said. “Last year, he was training with some of our best wrestlers on the team. They were seniors and he was doing really well against them.”
During this year’s football game against Davenport North, Kueter was tackled and injured his leg. He temporarily has to wear a boot and use crutches to move around. He is expecting to start practicing again a few weeks after the start of the wrestling season.
“[It is important to keep] trusting yourself, understanding that you might not be able to wrestle or train for a month or two months at a time, but understanding that you’re not going to forget how to wrestle within that time, especially somebody who has done as much wrestling as [Kueter] has. Just trusting your mind, trusting your body to get back out there, and compete at your highest level [is key],” Connell said.
The first varsity meet of the City wrestling season is on December 5, but districts is not until February 15. Kueter looks forward to wrestling again but first wants to make sure that his foot heals correctly.
“[Wrestling has taught me to] just stick with things. It’s a tough sport and there are a lot of times where you want to give up and this sport teaches you not to do that,” Kueter said. “That really helps, because [in life] a lot of times you don’t want to do something but you have to do it anyway.”
From flips in mid-air to back dives to twists, diving contains many interesting tricks. Gretta Stanier ‘23 is already leaving her mark on the diving team.
“I was always into gymnastics,” Stanier said. “I would go to classes but I didn’t want to really commit to it. So diving was a way for me to do gymnastics, but it was also unique and different.”
Stanier started diving at a young age because her friends encouraged her to join the Iowa Diving Club and she quickly began to love the sport.
“When I first started diving, I was really bad. I did a lot of basic training, like jumping on the board and just getting comfortable with [the board],” Stanier said.
Now, Stanier’s favorite dives include back dives and twists. She jumps up off the board, propels herself into the air, and twists around as the water is rushing up to meet her. The whole dive only takes a split second and then it is over.
“I like that [diving] is challenging and that you can always add more on to what you know and get better,” Stanier said.
This year, the City High diving team is made up of six girls, who are coached by Lori Meierbachtol, along with divers from West High.
“It has been wonderful having Greta on the team this year and getting to know her and her diving,” Meierbachtol said. “She has a great deal of talent and potential.”
At Regionals, Stanier got 11th place with a final score of 333.15 points, placing the highest of the three City divers at the meet and missing the qualification for state by only 26.85 points.
“Greta has a big advantage coming onto the diving team with a little bit of a background diving on a club team before high school,” Meierbachtol said. “She has learned some great basic diving techniques on this club team, which will make it easier for her to start doing more and more dives with a higher degree of difficulty.”
As of now, Stanier is trying to learn more difficult dives that get a greater number of points at competitions. She hopes to keep improving her diving throughout high school and eventually get a scholarship to dive in college.
“My favorite part about coaching Greta is that she is very coachable. She tries very hard to understand the changes I am asking her to make and she puts a lot of effort into making corrections to improve her dives,” Meierbachtol said. “She definitely has the talent to dive at the college level one day as long as she stays committed to building strength and power.”
Sometimes people surprise themselves. They attempt something and do so much better than they ever expected.
Ford Washburn ‘23 did not have high expectations for his first high school cross country season, and would never have guessed that he would be the only boy from City High who would qualify for state cross country meet.
“I didn’t think that as a freshman, not doing summer running at all, I would be fastest on the team by the end of season,” Washburn said. “I thought I was going to be really bad.”
Washburn played soccer for several years in New Mexico, but when he moved to Iowa City during junior high, he decided it was time for a change.
“I was like, ‘Hey, now that I moved to Iowa, I should try something new,’ so I went out for track in eighth grade,” Washburn said. “I just thought I would try running and see how it went.”
At the first cross-country meet hosted by the Iowa Mennonite School, Washburn ran a time of 19:07. Since then he has improved steadily until he ran a personal best time of 17:18 at the Bud Williams Cross-Country Invitational.
“At the beginning of summer, the coaches were like, ‘We’ve got this fast kid named Ford.’ I was like waiting for Ford to show up and all of a sudden he showed up and started doing really well,” Coach Jay Welp said.
Washburn started off the season in the group called Other Varsity One and eventually moved up to Varsity as his times improved. At Divisionals, he got seventh place overall with a time of 16:31.
“I just felt super nervous for this last race because the one before that I finished first for City,” Washburn said. “The last mile, there’s always somebody in City that’s ahead of me and I just look at them and just run faster until I catch them, and then try to pass them.”
Though Washburn was the only one who qualified, the rest of the team continued to train with him as he prepared for the state meet.
“I’m really glad that they were kind enough to do that, because it would have just been the coaches practicing with me if they ha[d]n’t,” Washburn said. “I am truly thankful that they did that for me.”
At state, Washburn finished 20th in class 4A with a personal best time of 16:10, beating all the other freshmen in any of the four classes.
“I was pretty nervous and scared that I might not be able to place as high as everybody thought I would. [Now,] I’m really happy about how I did and how I placed,” Washburn said.
Washburn enjoyed the cross-country season, especially being able to meet new people and spending time with the team. He is sad about the end of the season, but has high hopes for the coming years.
“The dream is for him to just keep getting better every year. Getting some experience [at state] and coming back next year, a little more experienced and a little more seasoned,” Welp said.