Storm Lake boys take sixth in strong field
Storm Lake sophomore Joe Cullen put on some serious miles this summer, enough to stand him in good stead at the start of the 2003 cross country season.
All those miles might have paid off at the Storm Lake Municipal Golf Course Tuesday during the 28-team, 581 runner Storm Lake Invitational.
Cullen finished 19th overall in the boys varsity race, which featured 134 runners. He finished the 5-Kilometer race in an impressive 18 minutes, 18 seconds and helped lead the Tornadoes to a sixth-place finish in the 20-team field.
"That's a pretty impressive finish for just a sophomore," said Storm Lake High cross country coach John Brostad. "All his work has really paid off, but that's what it takes in cross country."
Cullen was one of three SL High boys runners who medaled. The surprising Brett Miller, in his first year of cross country, finished 28th in 18:34 while sophomore Kevin Wulfekuhler was 31st in 18:42.
"It was a fine performance by our boys team," said Brostad. "But we still aren't up to full strength yet. We've had some minor injuries and illnesses and our best is still yet to come."
Cullen, meanwhile, had to gut it out down the chute after he started the race slow and then sped up through the middle portion. Coming down the last stretch, he was clearly laboring.
"I felt good out there but it was tough at the end," the lanky Cullen said. "This was probably my best race of the year and I was pleased with my time overall."
Miller said he suffered cramps in both calves shortly after the race began.
"That's tough, because you can't get rid of them during the race," Miller said. "They just stay with you and it hurt my time, which just wasn't up to par. But the way I feel about cross country is if you feel tired at the end of a race, you've done alright. And I feel pretty tired right now."
Other Storm Lake boys finishers, their places and times, were: Dan Christiansen, 51st in 19:12; Erik Borke, 61st in 19:35; Adam Kelly, 65th in 19:40, and Adam Sievers, 89th in 20:28.
Those finishes were enough to give the Tornadoes a sixth place finish with 190 points.
Lakes Conference rival Spirit Lake won the varsity boys team competition with 99 points while Denison-Schleswig was second (110), and Sioux City North third (111 points).
Meanwhile, taking individual honors and beating the field by a wide margin was Sioux City West senior runner Kyle VanderLinden. He finished the 5K course first in 16:33, over 37 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Dave Bohlken of LeMars.
VanderLinden is currently ranked 19th in the state in Class 3A, according to his coach David Nash. It was also VanderLinden's first-ever first-place finish in a meet.
"It feels great to finally win," said the senior, who finished 73rd at state last season. "I trained harder this summer than I ever had before, and I'm in good shape at the start of the season."
It also doesn't hurt, Nash said, that VanderLinden's father is one of the top over-40 long distance runners in the nation.
Meanwhile, Kyle hopes to win a few more meets before peaking at his city and the Iowa State meet.
"My two biggest goals are to be the top runner (in Sioux City) and finish in the top ten at state," said. "I think those are both within reach for me."
Spirit Lake's Nick Hibma took third individually in the boys varsity race in 17:13, while Kuemper's Cole Feldmen was fourth overall in 17:22 and Cherokee's Matt Nelson fifth in 17:24.
* Other top finishes among area runners were Curtis Parker of Aurelia, 17th in 18:10, Garrett Hill of Aurelia, 32nd in 18:46, Tyler Sliefert of Alta, 34th in 18:48, and Eric Holton of Alta, 40th in 18:56.
The following is a list of the Storm Lake junior varsity, freshman and middle school finishers, their places and times.
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