Posted on




Cole, Connell will represent CC in Fort Dodge

DECORAH — Charles City will be sending two representitives to the state cross country meet in Fort Dodge on Oct. 31. Junior McKayla Cole, who won the district title on Thursday at Decorah, and Gavin Connell, will be headed to the state meet next Saturday.

The girls came in ranked No. 11 in the state, expected to make a state appearence this year, according to the polls. But rankings only go so far, and a fifth place finish at the district meet wasn’t enough to get them there.

Cole, who ran a 19:00.81, said it was kind of a shock not to be headed to the state meet with the rest of her team.

“Everybody’s really sad about it,” Cole said. “We definitely had the potential to do it, I’m just not quite sure what got to us, honestly. I think it was more of the nerves overtook everyone.”

As of this week, Cole is ranked as the No. 2 runner in Class 3A. The junior said she hopes next weekend will be to claim a top three position at the state meet.

“Last year I went in ranked eighth and didn’t do as well as I thought I should,” Cole said. “So I’m hoping to be up in the top three, at least.” Head coach Amanda Rahmiller said in the next week of practice, the team will try to keep things “as normal as possible” for Cole as she has one more week of preparation. “We’ll have one more week of practice and then go support McKayla as she tries to accomplish her last goal,” Rahmiller said. “She’s a completely different runner this year than she was last year.”

Rahmiller added that last year at this time, Cole was ready for break from the cross country season. But this year, Cole has only been looking forward to accomplishing her state goal.


At the Nashua-Plainfield cross country meet midway through September, Gavin Connell said he wanted to be up running with Charles City’s No. 1 runner, Jon Zander, and running with the lead pack.

On Thursday, Connell achieved his goal and was rewarded with a quallifying time to go to the state cross country meet.

Connell, who ran a 16:55.20, battled with a handful of runners in the last 100 meters of the 5K race. Bouncing from eighth to 15th and back up to 11th by the end of the meet, Connell couldn’t keep the smile off his face when talking about his accomplishment.

“Honestly, this is a huge accomplishment for anyone that’s going,” Connell said.

“I don’t care if you’re going with a team or as a solo. I told (coach Ryan) Rahmiller last year that state is going to be crazy this year, and I kept my word to him that I’d qualify today.”

Connell said he put in more than 500 miles running during the offseason, and credited each and every one of those miles to helping him to a state appearance this year.

“I’ll tell you what. I came across that finish line, had to be begging for someone to tell me how I placed,” Connell said. “I knew [Andrew] Kephart from Decorah put in a decent amount of miles. But I have to say, throughout this entire season, if I hadn’t put in


1. McKayla Cole, 19:00 23. Alysha Bilharz, 20:51 32. Whitney Martin, 21:13 36. Sarah Turpen, 21:19 46. Breuklyn Opp, 21:48 47. Hanna Bjelica, 21:49 50. Bailey MItchell, 22:06

that 500, I wouldn’t be up in that 11th spot today.”

Head coach Ryan Rahmiller said he was “really, really excited” for Connell and his accomplishment. As focused of a runner as he is, Rahmiller said to have that skill makes Connell stand out among most other runners.

“He was already talking about (qualifying for state) in the starting blocks,” Rahmiller said. “That’s the kind of focused of a runner he is. And I really appreciate that. To have that kind of fearlessness at that age…I’m really excited for him and his running career.”

Battling sickness, the usual No. 1 runner in Zander was forced out of the qualifying contention. As a senior, Rahmiller said he wanted more for Zander, but he’s had a great running career.

The Charles City boys were seventh at the district meet with 181 points.

Cole and Connell will be competing in the Class 3A state cross country meet on Oct. 31 at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge.

Races are set to begin at 10 a.m.


11. Gavin Connell, 16:55 23. Jon Zander, 17:17 35. Adam Stewart, 17:45 52. Tyson Stromer, 18:24 60. John Perez, 18:44 64. Luke Delap, 19:01 66. Malik Knighten, 19:08

Social Share