IOWA CITY– Mike Parker’s Trojan cross country team will rely heavily on a pair of seniors, a quartet of juniors and a sophomore as they look to defend their MVC super meet championship from last season.
Daniel Gardarsson and Wynton Karanja are the seniors. Gardarsson earned second team all-conference honors last year and finished 28th at the state meet while Karanja picked up an all-conference honorable mention and was 68th at state. Abdallah Ali, Akash Borde, Ian McGillicuddy and Noah Brase are the juniors. Ali was the MVC Soph and an individual runner-up, Borde is making a strong return in the wake of an injury in the 2012 season, “(McGillicuddy is) ready to step up to varsity running, (while Brase is) coming off of a really good sophomore track season,” Parker said. Parker Karanja is a sophomore who held the distinction of the fastest freshman in Iowa last year with a time of 16:08.
Josh Jensen, a junior, is ready to make an impact at the varsity level according to Parker while sophomore Nick Feeley has, “greatly improved from track last season. (Feely could be) the surprise we’re looking for,” he said. Senior Robert Netolicky, “had a good summer of training and improved a great deal,” Parker said, adding to the Trojan firepower on the course.
Parker said the state experience in Gardarsson and the Karanja’s, along with their competitiveness in cross-country and track and field last year is a strength for the squad. “We have an eager junior class that is excited about stepping out from the shadows and emerging as a quality team,” as well. Parker credits a good summer of preparation for good early season practices and time trial. But with the good, there is also the not so good. “There will be a learning curve for our new varsity members when it comes to the moment of truth when the going gets tough.” Parker said he thinks they are willing to take “a leap of faith and jump through the window of opportunity.” The team is also working through some early season injuries, but the nine-year coach is optimistic that things will come together in the next few weeks.
The Trojans have set a goal of contending for an MVC championship, returning to state and bringing home a Top 3 trophy.
2013 IC West boys cross country schedule
Thursday, Sept. 12: Invitational at Noelridge Park, Cedar Rapids, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 19: Vs. City High at U of I Ashton CC course, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 21: At Iowa State University CC course, 9:45 a.m.
Tuesday Oct. 1: Home invitational at U of I Ashton CC course, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 10: MVC meet at Dubuque Soccer Complex, 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 17: Divisional meet at U of I Ashton CC course, 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 24: District meet, TBA.
Saturday, Nov. 2: State meet at Lakeside Golf Course, Ft. Dodge, TBA.