Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
FORT DODGE – Like any other first-year competitor Annalee Bartles entered her first season of high school cross country not knowing exactly what to expect.
The difference with Bartles is the Regina sophomore admits she really didn’t know a thing about cross country.
“I thought cross country was just running,” Bartles said. “I didn’t know there was placing or anything like that. I didn’t know anything about how it worked.”
Bartles got a crash course in cross country this season and proved to be a quick study.
Two months after competing in her first ever cross country race Bartles placed fifth at the Class 1A state meet on Saturday at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
The fifth-place finish by Bartles helped Regina to a runner-up team finish and was the best individual finish for a Regina runner since Nicole Keinmeyer placed third in 2009.
Not bad for a self-described cross country novice.
“I’m a little bit surprised with how much she has progressed,” first-year Regina coach Liam Hartley said. “It’s been phenomenal to just watch her do that. She doesn’t quite know what her potential is. That is something that we will still work on.”
Forget about conquering the noise and pressure that comes with a state meet Bartles entered the season worried she would finish last at her first race.
Instead she turned into one of the front of the pack runners for a Regina team that matched its best state meet finish since 2011 by finishing second to top-ranked Logan-Magnolia with 128 points.
Bartles finished in a time of 19:49.4, nearly 10 seconds in front of the sixth-place runner Turkey Valley freshman Jalyssa Blazek.
“This race and the whole meet just have good vibes,” Bartles said of the state meet. “It’s a weird word but it has such good vibes and such positive energy. I just came into it and said whatever I get is good enough.”
In her first state meet experience Bartles benefitted from running alongside her teammates.
“It really helped having our whole team here,” Bartles said. “Our team is so supportive and they really pushed me.”
Hartley saw the potential in Bartles early in the season.
As the season went on Bartles was competing with freshman Josie Voss at the front of Regina workouts and meets.
Voss finished 22nd in 20:45.1 in her state meet debut on Saturday.
“I think it was just a lot of consistency in her daily runs,” Hartley said. “Again, she is completely new to everything too but is very consistent and has slowly worked her way up in workouts to where she was running side by side with (freshman) Josie Voss in meets and workouts.”
Despite a lack of past racing experience Hartley says Bartles has taken to the strategy of the sport.
“For someone who has never really raced cross country before she is a pretty savvy racer,” Hartley said. “You see her start way more conservative than most girls and then keeps moving forward more so than most everyone else.”
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