Heeren, Hawk boys excited with second; Lynx show growth at Ballard

HUXLEY – Jacob Heeren can tell you about every step he took on the roads and trails over the summer as he prepared for the cross country season.

He ran 532 miles, to be exact – all in the hope of profiting come race time.

So far, so good.

South Hamilton’s junior leader looked strong throughout yesterday’s 33rd annual Ballard Invitational at the Ballard Country Club. Even on a course he admittedly hates, he still plugged away to a 5K time of 18 minutes, 2 seconds to grab the silver in the Class D field.

“This course is super long and has super steep hills, but it definitely went really well,” he said. “My time wasn’t great, but that happens on this course it’s exciting to see all of the hard work pay off.”

Heeren guided the Hawks to 90 team points and a runner-up result behind class champion BCLUW (73). South Hamilton owned a 12-point cushion on third-place finisher Earlham (102).

“It was a good meet for our boys,” South Hamilton head coach Darrell Paulsen said. “We only ran with six, but still did really well.”

Webster City was up in the largest Class A and showed signs of growth with a sixth-place finish with 176 points. Fifth-ranked (3A) Boone pulled the upset by knocking off top-rated (3A) Pella, 41-44, at the top of the standings.

“We were vastly improved over a year ago,” Bussan said. “When we look at last year’s team, which ended up being a pretty darned good team, other than Steven Smith who was out front, our top three or four positions (last night) would have beaten our top three or four performances other than Steven. So they’ve stepped hugely forward to put us on good footing.”

South Hamilton’s remaining scorers all finished under 20 minutes. Jacob Ratzke was happy to follow teammate Drake Thompson for much of the race before jumping ahead late to take 15th in 19:23. Thompson, a freshman, was 18th in 19:29 and classmate Hunter Johnson (19:52) was 26th. Luke Jacoby (19:59) was 29th to complete the scoring.

“Our freshmen our stepping up and that’s exciting to see,” Heeren said.

Seniors Brandon Arkland and Adam McMurray showed their Lynx teammates the way. Arkland stayed out front for the team throughout and settled into 25th in 18:17. McMurray (18:28) was just 11 seconds back in 32nd.

“Those two kids, there’s nothing that is good enough for them right now and that’s great,” Bussan said. “They want to lead and they were out there to prove they belong.”

Seth Crouthamel (18:36) was 35th, Jacob Perin (18:40) 38th and Demar Lemus (19:09) 46th to finish off the Lynx scoring five.

“The kids are doing what they can and they’re taking tremendous pride right now,” Bussan said. “The big thing we’ve got to do is close down the gap between our fourth and fifth runners, and we think the potential is there.”