As her family and teammates cheered her on, Clarinda freshman Mayson Hartley proved Saturday, Nov. 2, she belongs among the best Class 2A cross country runners in the state of Iowa.
Hartley competed in the Iowa High School Cross Country Championship Saturday at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge. She was among 138 runners in the Class 2A girls’ race.
“I got a lot of support from my family and teammates from both the boys’ and girls’ squads. That meant a lot. I have received a lot of encouragement all season from my family, teammates and the whole community,” Hartley said.
Hartley navigated the state championship course in a time of 20:09.5. As a result, she finished 24th in the race.
Senior Marie Hostetler of Mid-Prairie, Wellman, won the Class 2A girls’ race. She posted a time of 17:58.2 on the day.
On the strength of the winning effort by Hostetler, Mid-Prairie, Wellman, also captured the team championship. The Golden Hawks collected 61 points to edge Williamsburg by one point.
Hartley advanced to state with a fifth place finish in the state qualifying meet held Thursday, Oct. 24, at Panora. She posted a time of 20:49 in that race.
“That was super exciting because I really wanted to make it as a freshman so I can build off that experience over the next three years,” Hartley said.
Although this was the first time Hartley competed at the state meet, the course at Lakeside Golf Course was not unfamiliar to her. Last season, as an eighth grader, Hartley went to the state meet to cheer on teammate Ashlyn Eberly.
Hartley also had a chance to run the course once before her race. Rather than getting caught up in the excitement of the state championships, Hartley said she spent her time leading up to the race finalizing her strategy.
“It felt like any other meet as far as the environment. I was just watching the other races and planning out how I was going to run,” Hartley said.
Since the course was open and relatively flat, Hartley said she hoped to use the layout to her advantage. Her plan was to get out of the starting pack early, keep a steady pace and then finish with a strong kick.
“I felt like I started the race like I wanted. At the beginning I wanted to get out of the pack early. I liked the first mile because it was flat with only one uphill section. It was nice to experience the first mile of the race,” Hartley said.
After the first mile, Hartley was in the lead pack. After maintaining a respectable pace, Hartley turned in a good kick down the stretch.
“I ended the race like I wanted to, but I think I could have done a little better in the middle of the race. That is something to work on definitely,” Hartley said.
Coming into the race, Hartley said her goal was to medal with a top 15 finish. The top 15 runners in the race also earned all-state honors.
“I didn’t get the placing I wanted, so that lights my fire to come back bigger and better next year,” Hartley said. “I really want to make it the next three years. With a year of experience under my belt now, I know what to expect and know I need to improve on my placing and time from this year.”
Hartley said her focus during the offseason will be to build her endurance and strengthen her final kick.
“That will help me in the long run. Having more endurance for the second and third mile will help me keep a lead. Then, being able to finish a race strong, always helps,” Hartley said.
Still, Hartley said she was pleased with what she was able to accomplish as a freshman for the Cardinals this season.
“I think the season went pretty well. I won a race and ran against a lot of good runners. So I’m hoping that next year I can use that experience and build off of it,” Hartley said.