Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – Each of the past two seasons have featured significant steps for the Clear Creek Amana boys cross country program.
In 2016 it was a trip to the state meet for the first time since 2013 where the Clippers finished 14th in Class 3A.
Last fall Clear Creek Amana notched the highest WAMAC Conference finish in program history (3rd) and returned to the state meet where it posted its best ever finish (10th).
The next step in the progression is a big one and the Clippers believe they are up for it this fall.
“Our goal is to get top three at state and keep progressing,” junior Nick O’Connor said. “Two years ago we got 14th last year we got 10th and we want to keep working our way up.”
The question this season doesn’t seem to be whether Clear Creek Amana can continue its upward trend but rather how high the Clippers can climb.
All seven members of last year’s team that finished 10th at state return for Clear Creek Amana including a pair of two-time state qualifiers in O’Connor and senior Cole Liebe.
“I would say that our expectations are high and I don’t feel like they are shying away from them I feel like they have embraced them,” Clear Creek Amana head coach Ben Robison said. “We are going to try not to discredit anyone else in the process but I definitely think they are an upper echelon 3A team right now which is awesome.”
O’Connor is the top returner after placing 27th as an individual at the state meet a year ago but the strength for the Clippers is in its depth.
Clear Creek Amana joins Carlisle as the only Class 3A team in the top 10 last season to return all five of its top state finishers.
“The depth, the competition on this team is amazing,” senior Kaden McAreavy said. “I don’t think any of us would be at the level that we are competing at without these teammates. If I was on any other team I don’t think I’d be even close to the level I’m at now.”
Sophomore Brandon Barker was 42nd in his state meet debut last season and joins juniors Jack Sexton and Brandon McCarty and sophomore Caleb Alcorn as Clippers with state meet experience.
Toss in a strong group of freshmen ready to compete for varsity spots and you have all the makings of a team capable of taking that big step into state hardware contention.
“We are trying to get top three at state and just build on what we did last year,” Sexton said. “We want to keep developing the way that we have, we’ve done great this far and we want to keep
The Clippers opened the season ranked 10th in Class 3A.
If their season-opening performance was any indication the Clippers are capable of much more than a top-10 ranking.
Clear Creek Amana placed fifth at the season-opening Cedar Rapids Prairie Invitational on Saturday, trailing only four Class 4A teams in the final standings.
The Clippers finished with 170 points, 40 better than Class 3A sixth-ranked Marion and more than 100 better than fourth-ranked Mount Vernon-Lisbon.
“Every year I say it and they keep outdoing themselves but this has been the best offseason that we’ve had in five years easily,” Robison said. “I have never seen this group specifically more locked in than they are right now.”