The Knoxville Cross Country Invitational is today at Pine Knolls Country Club. Considered one of the premier in-season meets in southern Iowa, many teams enjoy the challenge of the hills that Pine Knolls Golf Course provides.
Among those teams are the girls and boys from Pella Christian. Head coach Jocelyn Meinders says many of her athletes pride themselves on their determination to take on a course with many ups and downs.
“They know the course. We’ve run it a couple of times – we’ve run it for [the conference meet] the last couple of years, and we’ve been to that course enough times that the kids are comfortable with it – which is nice,” said Meinders. “They are really good at hills, so when they go out and they know the hills and where they’re at on the course, then they can really go out and know how to pace themselves and push themselves up those hills.”
Even with the challenges that the terrain at Pine Knolls provides, Pella High head coach Doug Cutler says he is telling his athletes there is no reason why they can’t set some of their best times of the season at today’s meet.
“This distance is the same, so you can still perform very well on it if you run the hills correctly and you learn strategy of when to push and when to save a little bit – but maintain your speed,” said Cutler.
Host coach, Mike Moats of Knoxville, says his squads have been building to this part of the season knowing that many of his runners on the boys and girls teams may not have been ready for varsity competition at first; but after a few meets he says now they are ready for the challenge that varsity competition brings.
“We knew we were going to struggle early on in the season – both girls and boys – because we’ve got a lot of girls that are having to step into varsity positions that don’t have a lot of experience at varsity,” said Moats. “We’ve kind of been preaching to them that, ‘hey, some of you younger kids aren’t ready, but by the end of September [or] the beginning of October, you will be’.”
The middle school races are scheduled to get underway at around 4:30 p.m. followed by the junior varsity and varsity races at the Pine Knolls Country Club on the southeast side of Knoxville.