Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Tonya McDonough has been around cross country long enough to know that rankings don’t mean much in August.
The second-year Liberty High coach also knows just how much appearing in the Class 4A rankings for the first time in program history earlier this week meant to her young team.
“I can’t even explain it, it was great,” McDonough said. “It was like making state as a team.”
Liberty High debuted in the Iowa Association of Track Coaches Rankings at No. 11 on Tuesday.
On Thursday the Lightning looked like a team worthy of that ranking.
Liberty High had the top three individual finishers and placed second as a team at the Bob Brown Cross Country Classic at Kickers Soccer Park in Iowa City.
“Overall they looked great today,” McDonough said. “We were racing and placing. We went 1-2-3 and I have no doubt that our 4-5-6-7 are going to continue to improve and just close that gap.”
Competing for the first time since the rankings came out on Tuesday Liberty High did its best to back up its first ever ranking.
Freshman Ashlyn Keeney cruised to the individual title in 19:10.11 to headline a 1-2-3 individual finish for Liberty High.
Sophomore McKenzie Logan was runner-up in 20:23.2 while Camille Mac was third in 20:43.24.
“We were just so excited because we are the first ranked team in the school,” Keeney said. “That was a really big thing for us and I think it made us a little more motivated. We just want run as hard as we can.”
The top three finishes from Keeney, Logan and Mac helped Liberty High finished second to Class 3A No. 14 Solon in the team standings.
Solon won the team title with 66 points followed by Liberty High with 70 and Class 1A fourth-ranked Regina with 100.
“Right now the rankings are a lot of fun this time of year because it gives us a lot of information about where we stand,” McDonough said. “Down the road as we get closer to championship seasons we will ignore the rankings but right now it’s a lot of fun to see your name on that list.”
Liberty High has already made impressive progress just a few weeks into its second season.
Mac and Logan were the only two varsity runners for the Lightning a year ago.
This season the addition of Keeney along with several other freshmen including Elizabeth Jaeger and Isabelle Woody have allowed the Lightning to start competing as a full team for the first time.
“Having a full team is awesome,” Logan said. “We can all cheer each other on and the JV team is cheering us on and it feels amazing. It makes me smile every time.”
The Lightning are already making the most of that opportunity.
Keeney gives the Lightning one of the top runners in the state leading the pack.
The freshman finished more than 70 seconds in front of runner-up Logan on Thursday.
“It made me feel more prepared for this one since I had run a high school race last week,” Keeney said. “I was happy with it but I think I could have pushed it a little more in mile two and the beginning of mile three.”
Logan and Mac have shown improvement from last season.
Mac finished 15 seconds in front of fourth place Aburey Frey of Mount Vernon-Lisbon.
“I feel like I’ve improve a lot from last year and our whole team has gotten a lot better,” Logan said. “This is our second year as a team but our first year as a full team that can be ranked so it was really cool to be top 11/
Team Scores – 1. Solon 66; 2. Liberty High 70; 3. Regina 100; 4. Marion 103; 5. Mount Vernon-Lisbon 134; 6. Anamosa 164; 7. Monticello 173; 8. Western Dubuque 181; 9. Tipton 197; 10. Clear Creek Amana 245; 11. Wilton 297
Individual leaders – 1. Ashlyn Keeney (ICL) 19:10.11; 2. McKenzie Logan (ICL) 20:23.2; 3. Camille Mac (ICL) 20:43.24; 4. Aubrey Frey (MVL) 20:58.45; 5. Corrina Dittmer (MAR) 21:13.85; 6. Hallie Kephart (MAR) 21:37.88; 7. Emma Bock (SOL) 21:47.38; 8. Kaylie Barker (CCA) 21:48.22; 9. Lauren Klein (WD) 21:48.69; 10. Josie Voss (ICR) 21:49.44
Solon – 7. Emma Bock 21:47.38; 11. Kiersten Conway 21:50.29; 14. Kaia Holtkamp 22:33.43; 16. Ella Duster 22:36.61; 18. Erin Kerkhoff 22:44.37; 21. Nicole Shafer 22:52.21; 23. Saige Hauer 22:55.67
Liberty High – 1. Ashlyn Keeney 19:10.11; 2. McKenzie Logan 20:23.2; 3. Camille Mac 20:43.24; 26. Elizabeth Jaeger 23:06.73; 38. Isabelle Woody 24:00.55; 54. Chaise Lange 24:48.27; 55. Christella Luyeye 24:51.58
Regina – 10. Josie Voss 21:49.44; 12. Maeve Dunne 21:55.68; 15. Annalee Bartels 22:36.41; 31. Molly Vittetoe 23:41.78; 32. Mary Catherine Graff 23:46.17; 47. Josie Pursley 24:30; 48. Kennedy Scott 24:34.99
Clear Creek Amana – 8. Kaylie Barker 21:48.22; 41. Madeline Fox 24:04.47; 59. Allie Kounkel 25:08.85; 66. Emily Coleman 26:19.83; 71. Olivia Smyka 27:23.35; 74. Alexis Ponce 29:13.75