The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

November 2, 2013

Cross country: Rebels aim high today at state

CLINTON — Pat Healy admits there were some doubts about his Northeast High School girls cross country team at parts of this season.
Coming off a second-place finish at last year's state meet, the Rebels were ranked high at the start of the season with high expectations. First, there were ailments, then some performance issues. But now, Healy and his girls feel pretty good about how things are going as they ready themselves for today's Iowa cross country state meet at Kennedy Park in Fort Dodge.
"Last year we got second, and think we were aiming for that, but when we were fourth in the conference we had some doubts," Healy said.
But the Rebels regained some confidence with a second-place finish at their Class 2A state-qualifying meet, and they take a No. 6 state ranking into today's meet. For Northeast's small team, it certainly is a team effort.
"We run as a pack pretty much all year round," Healy said. "If the pack is up there close enough, we know we'll be all right."
Healy said there were other advantages to having everyone run together.
"What's nice is the girls get a lot of camaraderie," he said. "If one person is down, the next picks it up."
Hannah Kilburg is the Rebels' top runner and carries a No. 18 state ranking into today's 4,000-meter race. After her, Maddy Kaczinski, Aleenah Marcucci and Kaitlynn Riley typically are bunched up, although Riley had a breakout race at state last year, finishing ninth.
Northeast's boys team also is looking for a high finish. It enters the meet ranked fourth in Class 2A, with senior Eli Kaczinski at the No. 6 spot individually.
"I really hope Eli can get in the top 10," Northeast boys coach Mike Mattis said. "He deserves it for what he's done for four years.

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