Cascade’s boys’ cross country team had its best season in many years breaking an 18-year drought for team appearances at the state championship. Head coach Phil Kauder thought there were many paths the team could have taken and was pleased with the overall result.

“There was good improvement and progress as the season went on, and we did not really experience any major setbacks,” said Kauder, “Looking back I remember thinking when a new coach and a little different training style than the team was used to comes in, many things could happen. The best thing did happen, the runners trusted us coaches.”

Kauder pointed to the team beating Bellevue at the Tipton meet early in the season as a highlight. “It sure seemed to inspire them (Bellevue) to get going — we did not beat them again and they ended up sixth at the state meet.”

A big highlight was the team finish at the state-qualifying meet.

“The effort that was given at the (state-qualifying meet) at Fillmore has to be the number one highlight, seizing the moment and sneaking in by six points to make it back to state after 18 years of no boys’ team being able to do it. Max (Nadeau) was the big key to success. We felt he could run a smart race and be right there for eighth, ninth or 10th. He really felt it that night and finished sixth not far behind Adam (Knepper), who was third. Everyone on the boys’ team did what was needed and did not falter under the pressure of being home at Fillmore.

“Davis Trumm was our lone senior on the team and he went out in style. For (Davis) to be on a team that qualified for state wasthe icing on the cake and for him to run his best 5K ever at the state meet (19:05) was the best way for any senior to go out. Davis stayed with running even after a surgery that a lot of young athletes would have called it quits after dealing with. Not Davis. He worked hard throughout the season and it paid off.”

The season-best times for the boys were: Knepper 17:11, Nadeau 18:12, Lane Cook 18:59, Davis Trumm 19:05, Ben Gehl 19:34, Andrew Kaalberg 21:04, Giovanni Vega-Vega 21:08, Sean Pry 21:17, Nathaniel Manternach 21:21, Payton Feldmann 21:26, Eli Merfeld 21:49, Trenten Topping 21:50 and Peter Noonan 23:43.

Assistant coach Kyle Kauder was impressed with the focus of the girls’ team which was running for individual improvement this year, since they didn’t have enough runners to field a full team.

“The girls were up and down this season, not having a full team takes some of the focus off the season, but they gave us a very good effort and especially at the (state-qualifier).”

The Cougars return all four girls next season. Anna Conlin, Lilly Topping and Grace Bower will all be seniors. Conlin is No. 14 and Topping is No. 17 on the Cougars’ all-time girls’ 5K list. Delaney Kremer will return for her sophomore season.

The season-best times for the girls were: Conlin 22:15, Topping 25:04, Bower 25:51 and Kremer 27:25.

With one season under his belt at the helm of the Cougars, coach Phil Kauder is looking forward to the future.

“This team is very smart and knows what is right and what is wrong. Early on we had to say we would not talk about what we should have done over the summer or what we need to next summer, we told them we are going to focus on what we can do this season to keep you healthy and improving and running your best times at the end of the year.

“We had quite a few people who did not run very much this summer, or less than last year, or had never run (cross country). For us coaches it was nice that they were so smart and honest, they know they could be stronger and probably run faster if they log those extra summer miles in, so our goal of better summer mileage should be an easy fix.

“I think our numbers are close to what would help to have — I always believed that three, four or five in each grade gives you a group of 12 to 20 girls and boys that usually makes your top seven pretty competitive — things seem to go in cycles.”

Assistant coach Kyle Kauder is also looking forward to the future, “With only Davis graduating from the boys’ team, things look bright. The girls should be competitive with the addition of the junior high girls that will be ninth-graders next season. We felt like we had a great group of student-athletes this year. They were honest, hardworking and team-oriented.”

Phil Kauder was also appreciative that his team is able to call Fillmore Fairways home. “Getting to run out at the Fillmore golf course is such an honor and an advantage to our team. The Dubuque County Conservation Board Director Brian Preston and the Fillmore Superintendent Mike White deserve a big thank you.”