Redhawks on the run to state
Lidgett, Breakenridge, Snyder qualify for North Tama
The North Tama Redhawks cross country team, a small but mighty group, staked their claim in next week’s state cross country meet.
Three North Tama runners netted top 10, state-qualifying finishes at the Class 1A District Meet in Manly Thursday.
Twelfth-ranked Grace Lidgett took first place in the girls race with a time of 20:30.26, finishing 18 seconds in front of the runner up, Chloe Matthews of Nasuha-Plainfield.
Jules Breakenridge, only two weeks removed from returning from injury, qualified with an eighth place finish and a time of 21:32.86.
Senior Sam Snyder took third at the district meet with a time of 17:19.44, beating out Joey Ringo from Newman Catholic by a second at the finish line.
“It was awesome,” head coach Katey Holbach said. “I would have been proud of them no matter where they came in at today. They all just had that fight in their eyes and they were attacking the course. They weren’t sitting back and being ok. They were pushing themselves and running through that uncomfortable running pain. It was great to see. Then to see them get the reward of going on to State was fantastic. All three of them have a really special reason to be at State and it was great to see them make it.”
Lidgett will make her debut at the state meet after a season where she’s needed to take extra caution due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sophomore has lived with cystic fybrosis since she was an infant and has taken on adjustments to the cross country experience that allow her to compete but remain as protected as possible.
She stays distanced during practice and meets and works on race day strategies to keep her in front of other runners as much as possible.
“It wasn’t until after I crossed the finish line when I finally realized what was happening,” Lidgett said. “It was a good run. It was painful, but it was good.”
Breakenridge meanwhile has faced her own set of challenges over the past year.
In 2019 she set the school 5K record during the regular season and was just a few steps short of qualifying for the state meet.
This year, Breakenridge has battled injury through most of the regular season and made it back to competition within the past couple weeks.
“It was definitely all mental for me this year,” Breakenridge said. “I knew coming back with only one week of practice that I just had to go, I had no time left.”
After climbing back up the hill through adversity, she is optimistic for the road ahead.
“It feels awesome, this is all I’ve ever wanted going out for cross country. I’m super excited and looking forward to the experience at State,” Breakenridge said.
Although the course in Manly was relatively flat, runners were faced with unseasonably cold temperatures as well as moderate wind and drizzling rain. The team faced poor weather last week but has managed record breaking times despite the wind and cold.
“Most of the team ran personal bests today,” Holbach said. “Those that didn’t qualify for State are ending on a really good note. Despite how cold and how bad this weather is today, they all are in high spirits. I think that says a lot about them as athletes and as people.”
Snyder, the lone Redhawks qualifier on the boys team, battled runners the whole way through but ended with a strong third place finish and an opportunity to again compete at State.
“It felt good,” Snyder said. “It was definitely a fight. There were a few spots at the beginning of the race where the weather and everything really took its toll on my mindset. Once you hear that gunshot, all that leaves your mind though. You’re just keeping your mind on the race and the guy in front of you and listening for the guys behind you.”
Snyder will look to improve upon his time of 17:52.80 from his 2019 run at the state meet in Fort Dodge.
Holbach says the team will take a gradual approach this week in preparation for next Saturday.
“They’ve really done all of the hard work,” Holbach said. “Their bodies knows exactly what to do so we won’t go too hard in practice where they’ll be sore next week. We’ll just talk about how to mentally prepare for State. How big it is and how to not let that overwhelm them.”
The extended forecast for Fort Dodge looks partly sunny, a bit warmer than this week with little chance of precipitation.
The Class 1A meets will take place Oct. 31 at Kennedy Park in Fort Dodge with the girls race beginning at 3:30 p.m. and the boys race beginning at 4:00 p.m.
DISTRICT MEET RESULTS
NT BOYS: Sam Snyder, 17:19.44; Scott Lewis, 20:08.19; Christian Dronebarger, 21:57.58.
NT GIRLS: Grace Lidgett, 20:30.26; Jules Breakenridge, 21:32.86; Rachel Robinson, 27:17.80