Oct. 14—"Boom, boom, boom".
That's how the Northeast Rebels want to finish each and every race, and they've been keeping close to that mentality.
"I think our sport gets this name for itself about just being it's own, individual sport," Northeast head cross country coach Trenton Weaver said. "Because you are running by yourself. We know as a team, the team aspect in every way helps."
The girls and boys just got one running the River Valley Conference tournament on Tuesday night and now are gearing up for the Class 2A state-qualifying race next Thursday. The girls ended up with a fourth pace finish as a team, while the Rebel boys came in seventh, Carter Jargo got a 15th place finish, and three more Rebels were across the finish line just over a minute later.
The girls had two finishers in the top 25 — Cenady Soenksen and Jeorgia Neumann.
For the girls, it's been a couple years coming. Cenady Soenksen is the only state-qualifier on the team but she's surrounded by fellow athletes that have dropped times and kept close.
"These girls have really clicked with that team aspect," Weaver said. "They have such a tight bond in the last weeks and months we've been running together. It's awesome, it's fun to watch and it's fast-paced, too.
"I think they're finally coming into their stride. They're realizing they want to take it seriously. This year, it's started to open their eyes and they've seen the potential."
Right after Soenksen is usually Jeorgia Neumann and Natalie Krogman, who often switch off finishes. Grace Ketelsen is never far behind.
"We talk to each other while we run," Neumann said. "Tell each other to keep pushing it, tell each other that we got this. If one of us is feeling good about the race, usually we all are."
They're aiming for a high finish as a team next week in Anamosa, but overall they've been focusing on that team aspect this season. It's apparent in the way they run and in the race results.
"Our goals as a team is always to finish together," Neumann said. "We always talk about the meets leading to state and how to get that journey to state."
For they boys, it seems like the order switches up almost every race. Carter Jargo has led quite a few finishes, but that's also not always the case.
"As a team, we're all friends outside of cross country and we know how to push each other at what we're best at and what we're worst at," Carter Jargo said. "We communicate really well."
Northeast has had a couple of powerful runners in the last few years that it seemed like the rest of the team was chasing. The pack running has been a change, but has been for the better.
"That's what wins meets," Coach Weaver said.
The other day at the Jim Hetrick Invitational in DeWitt, all of the varsity Rebel runners finished under 21 minutes and within 30 runners of each other.
"I think as an individual runner, to push yourself at practice or meets every day is tough. Having the kids so close together — I like the competitiveness," Weaver said. "It's friendly competition where they want each other to succeed but they also want to be successful themselves. I think that competition, it really helps drive practices and that's where the work get puts in."
It's clearly a working method for both varsity squads, but it's something else that's important to Weaver as a head coach.
"The best part of team running is that they always have each other's backs," Weaver said. "I think it shows that it's more than just running."
That's showed in the overall culture of the program, along with the results. The Rebels boast an upbeat and competitive mindset and it's one that the athletes take a lot of pride in.
"He pushes us all to be the best runner we can be," Jargo said. "Not only the best runner, but the best people we can be. He pushes us to cheer on our teammates, get as loud as we can."
The Rebels both take their chance at state qualifying next week on Thursday, Oct. 21. They'll be traveling to Anamosa for that meet. See a breakdown of some of their district competition on Page B3, under the River Valley Conference meet results.