Expectations and goals are high for the Forest City cross country teams. The teams swept both conference titles a year ago, and a majority of the team returns.
Junior Lilian Nelson returns as the Indians’ top female runner, and she ran 21:23 last year to finish second in the conference, just 14 seconds behind conference champ Abby Christians from Garner.
That’s Nelson, who also medaled at the state track meet this past spring.
Known to her teammates as Lili, she takes listeners through a typical day of training and how she has improved as an underclassman for the next two seasons.
Senior Joey Hovinga was not only the top runner on the Forest City’s boys team; he was one of the top runners in the state. After winning the Top of Iowa Conference West individual title, Hovinga finished 14th at the state meet.
Some might be confused when talking about running and the weight room, but Hovinga says he’s seen a difference in his times since he started adding weight training.
Hovinga will be pushed by Ethan Johnson and Parker Sharp, the next highest finishing returners, at the conference meet. Johnson finished 7th overall, and Sharp finished 9th.
Sophomore Emilie Weaver and junior Lilly Holtan were top-15 finishers at the conference meet on the girls side and will return to the Indians lineup. With a good lineup returning and younger athletes to fill the voids, the Indians will be looking for another successful season.
That’s third-year Forest City head coach Kamille Goepel, who is also the reason for the Indians taking advantage of the weight room. This first week of practice, they’ve been doing different types of running, according to Goepel. Monday, they started the season off with a 30-minute run, Tuesday they did a circuit, Wednesday was a recovery day, Thursday they ran up and down the bleachers, and today, they are closing the week with a longer run.
In August, when the season starts, Iowa usually tosses hot weather at the athletes, making hydration a key for the runners.
Goepel is no stranger to succees. The former West Hancock prep won two state championships in track for the Eagles. The 1500m when she was a freshman and the 400m hurdles when she was a senior. She would later earn Juco All-American honors at Iowa Central Community College in both indoor and outdoor races. She won an indoor national championship as the anchor of the 4×800. She was a runner-up at nationals in the outdoor 5000m race.
Forest City will open the season on August 31st in Mason City.
Zarren Egesdal is the sports director for Coloff Media radio stations KIOW and KHAM. He can be reached daily at [email protected] or 641-585-1073. Do you have a story idea? Feel free to contact him. Zarren is an award-winning journalist providing coverage to all area schools. You will hear Zarren calling games as the ‘voice of the Forest City Indians’ on KIOW (107.3), the Indians’ flagship station throughout the year.