Creating Dutch Cross Country History

Elijah Ruckman, Reporter

For the first time in a decade, a 3A school has had both their boys’ and girls’ cross country teams win state. Pella is the fourth school to do exactly that this century, and their chances are good of continuing their dominance. While the team isn’t necessarily overly young, with three graduating seniors on the varsity team for the boys, they do have a good selection of incoming 9th graders to strengthen the team next year. This is the first time in 11 years that a cross country team from Pella has won state.

Canaan Dunham, who finished 6th place at state and was the fastest freshman this year at state, enjoyed his final race of the season. 

“It was a great experience,” said Dunham. “I think the team made it really fun, and they just took a lot of the nerves out of it.” 

This highlights the importance of having experienced veteran runners on the state team, as they can help younger runners to perform better by putting their nerves at ease. And now next years’ varsity team will have state champion experience to help guide the incoming freshmen. 

For the girls, as they have no exiting seniors on the state team, their chances for a state championship repeat are looking good, but the turnaround from last year to this year is simply too big to be ignored. After not qualifying for state last year, several sophomore girls in the team decided to hit the training extra hard over the off-season in order to come back stronger the next year. This year, the now juniors were much stronger and more prepared for a better season. Throw in two exceptional freshmen girls, and the team went from not qualifying one year, to dominating the state meet the next. And not one of the girls is leaving, so they have the potential to be even stronger next year.

Not only is a twin championship exciting for the younger grades, it’s also a great finale to the senior’s high school cross country careers.

 Zackary Neumann, a senior on the state team said, “I’m not done yet. I still gotta come back for track season, but cross-cross country wise, I’m pretty happy with it.” 

Zack was recently awarded the Dutch award and was an academic all-state athlete.

Even though the team won state, the season isn’t over. A good varsity team runs year round, and that’s exactly what this team will do. 

When asked about what made the championship possible, Canaan said,  “It’s a lot of work over the summer. I put in a lot of work with a lot of the people that ran at state over the summer, and I think that’s what really helped me get here.” 

Overall, the whole team is happy with the way that the season went, and are generally looking forward to trying to repeat their state titles next year.