BETTENDORF — Kim Kaster has had plenty of time to plot strategy. Now, she is hoping to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn a trip to the state cross country meet.
Kaster, a junior, is Clinton High’s best chance to advance when the girls and boys teams travel to Crow Creek Park in Bettendorf for Thursday’s state-qualifying meets. She knows moving on won’t be an easy task.
“Our district this year is stacked,” she said last Thursday after placing 12th on the same course at the Mississippi Athletic Conference meet. “It will be interesting to see how it turns out. I’m excited.”
All of the MAC schools will be there, except Muscatine and Davenport Assumption, while Dubuque Senior, a team Clinton has seen this season, joins the nine-team field. Even though Senior is ranked 11th in the Class 4A state poll, the loss of Assumption and Muscatine should help Kaster’s chances. The top 10 individuals advance to state, and two runners from each of those schools finished ahead of Kaster in the conference meet.
She also is quite familiar with 4,000-meter course. Not only did she run it just a week ago, but last year’s MAC and regional meets also were held there.
“It helps,” she said of familiarity with the course. “I know where (runners) are hurting and so I should surge there. After the two-mile (hill), there’s that little hill, and that is where I think I need to surge. That’s where it gets me.”
The girls field includes the top-ranked runner in Class 4A, MAC champion Mackenzie Yanek of Pleasant Valley. The Spartans (ranked fifth), Senior (11th) and Bettendorf (15th) are the favorites to claim the three team qualifying spots for state.
There also are three ranked teams in the boys field: No 7 Pleasant Valley, No. 10 Senior and No. 15 Burlington. Coming off a last-place finish last week at the MAC meet, Clinton will come in with higher expectations this time.
The River Kings ran their top runners in the freshman/sophomore meet, and coach Wes Golden also expects to have sophomore Michael Peters back. He sat out last week with an injury.
In other state-qualifying meets Thursday, Camanche and Northeast travel to Tipton in Class 2A; Prince of Peace, Easton Valley, Calamus-Wheatland, Bellevue and Marquette Catholic go to Jesup for 1A; and Central DeWitt and Maquoketa head to Solon in 3A.