CROSS COUNTRY: LONG STRIDES FUEL BIG DREAMS

Veteran leadership provides spark for Greene County’s optimistic cross country program

By BRANDON HURLEY

Sports Editor
sports@beeherald.com

Experience often breeds success. It’s the natural dichotomy of any good business plan. Growing from within with an eye on the top can provide a sense of self-worth and a feeling of hope.
In Greene County’s case, the 2020 fall slate is as encouraging as any before as the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams take to the course Thursday afternoon. The Rams have bought their time, growing as one in an effort to succeed.
Veterans will pace the boys in what looks like a potentially banner year. All six of the Rams’ top runners are back from a year ago, bringing with them a drive to win. Four letter winners return on the girls side, which bodes well for a roster hoping to make noise as well.
Another year means another chance to grow as a runner, an opportunity to watch the miles pile up and the time clock tick downward. Greene County head coach Jeff Lamoureux hopes to lean on two of his most veteran runners once they take to the course this afternoon. Seniors Connor Brus and Luis Velazco provide a formidable one-two punch in a Heart of Iowa Conference loaded with talent.
“Connor has put in the miles over the summer and Luis has looked really strong so far,” the coach said. “Logan Woodruff, a junior, put in the miles over the summer and is expected to have a good season. We will look for juniors Ethan Larsen, Jayden Carstensen and Jax Carstensen, and sophomores Dakota Mobley and Ethan Frederick to also help in the scoring.”
Several loyal runners highlight the girls’ squad as well, athletes such as Conner Allender, Makala Kafer and Sadie Wilson bolster a young crop that include sophomores Olivia Shannon and Autumn Stevens.
Lamoureux believes his athletes can improve as the season progresses, though there is plenty room to grow, especially in the two most important areas of cross country. Struggling to finish out a race haunted Greene County for most of the fall last year.
“Both squads need to build on their endurance and speed toward the end of the race,” Lamoureux said. “We would start out strong but tend to fade as the race progressed.” 
Greene County’s girls’ unit will struggle with depth this fall. Gone are four seniors from last year’s squad as well as a few others who never turned out to practice in the summer. The Rams will utilize just seven runners throughout the fall months. Lamoureux is left feeling a tad nervous as the season begins.
“Enough to score as a team but leaves the team vulnerable if injuries or sickness occur,” the coach said.
On the flip side, the high boys’ numbers will provide an extra layer of motivation in practice, as Lamoureux believes his athletes can push one another to excel to the best of their abilities.
The Rams begin the trek along a COVID-19 shortened season tonight at West Central Valley. They’ll then wait a week before hosting their annual home meet Thursday, Sept. 10 at Spring Lake Park. Last year’s Greene County meet was called off twice due to flooding, though the 2020 version looks clear thanks to a historic drought.
The Heart of Iowa Conference yet again will present a strong group of teams and athletes. The North Polk boys’ enter the fall rated fifth overall in Class 3A while North Polk’s girls’ team also garnered votes. North Polk’s Zach Sporaa is the HOIC’s top-ranked runner coming in at No. 9 in Class 3A while the Comets’ Liza Shafter slides in at 21 on the girls’ side.
Co-ed state qualifying meets are scheduled for October 12, though no schools have been contacted as future hosts due to the ongoing threat of the Novel Coronavirus. The 2020 state cross country is slated for he following Saturday, October 21 in Fort Dodge.

2020 Greene County XC Schedule

4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17 - at Panorama (Lake Panorama Par 3)

4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24 - at Roland-Story (Story City)

5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1 - at Perry

4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6 - at South Central Calhoun (Lake City)

4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8 - at Saydel (Des Moines)

4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12 - Saydel

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