It might fall slightly under the radar from week-to-week, but Cascade’s girls cross country team is just fine with where it’s at so far this season. The Class 2A, No. 10 Cougars have remained patient to this point, in part because they know they can trust in the tried-and-true training of veteran coach Bob Davidshofer.

At Troy Mills, Oct. 6, the girls made their presence known in what Davidshofer called, “their best team performance so far this year,” finishing fourth in a stacked field at North Linn High School.

The Cougars’ perennial low-stick, senior Madeline Rhomberg, got things started with a fourth-place finish (20:11). Sophomore Emma Ostwinkle 15th (20:59) overcame her regular running partner, all-state senior Madison Kelchen 17th (21:06) by just a few strides at the finish line to give Cascade the highest finishing top-three of any team in attendance.

Freshman Harley Bradke-Stelken 41st (22:18) made another huge stride to crack the scoring lineup, while veteran Marie Knepper rounded out the Cougar top-five in 69th (22:54). Shannon Morris 73rd (23:02) and Rachel Rhomberg 89th (23:43) served as ‘pushers’ for the Cougars – a term that would become important as the race unfolded.

Class 2A, No. 1 ranked Williamsburg won the girls varsity team title with 106 points over runner-up, 1A, No. 3 Iowa City Regina (120). Cascade and 3A, No. 11 Solon had to factor in their sixth runners to break their original tie at 142 points, for third place. Solon would, unfortunately, prevail in that system.

“We learned the importance of all seven varsity members there,” Davidshofer said of the tie. “With that said, I thought we got a great effort out on a very soggy course.”

Benton (163) finished fifth after Cascade, followed by Marion (191), 2A, No. 6 Jesup (193), Mount Pleasant (217), Hudson (230), 2A, No. 9 Springville (273), 1A, No. 10 North Linn (276), Center Point-Urbana (284), 2A, No. 15 Tipton (286), Marquette Catholic (296), Vinton Shellsburg (366), Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck (433) and Washington (501). Emily Staal of Springville-Central City won the individual title by over a minute (18:16).

The Cougar boys finished their day as the 12th-place team (307). Cole Miller’s 26th place finish (18:17) was good for a new personal best and was also his first time leading the charge, on varsity. Carson Nauman 32nd (18:23), Nolan Noonan 84th (19:36) , Will Potter 85th (19:37), Sam Noonan 87th (19:39), Dane Bertling 90th (19:43) and Jonah Manternach 94th (19:44) rounded out the effort for the boys.

Class 3A, No. 2 Clear Creek Amana won the team title (39) over runner-up 3A, No. 4 Marion (76), 2A, No. 1 ranked Tipton (102), Center Point-Urbana (141), Benton (185), 2A, No. 9 Williamsburg (210), Mount Pleasant (211), 1A, No. 11 Maquoketa Valley (237), 2A, No. 15 Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck (250), Solon (258), North Linn (280) and Cascade (307). The Cougars managed to top Jesup (356), Vinton Shellsburg (360), Washington (363), Hudson (397), Alburnett (520), Midland (552) and Independence (564) in the team standings. Cody Mertens, of Mount Pleasant, won the varsity boys individual title in 16:45.

“Our top seven runners are getting much closer together,” Davidshofer said of his boys team. “Nauman, Sam Noonan, Bertling, and Manternach all improved on their times from last year.”

Davis Manternach was the lone Cougar in the boys junior varsity race, finishing 48th (21:20). Skylar Dolphin 18th (25:05), Maddie Knapp 49th (27:10), Emily Trumm 50th (27:12) and Faith Bower 54th (27:19) competed in the girls JV race.