Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FORT DODGE — It was a beautiful day for a cross-country race Friday at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course at Kennedy Park.
Washington senior Lance Sobaski proved that fact by placing eighth in Class 3A with a beautiful race, finishing within his target goal of seventh to 10th by running the five kilometer layout in 16 minutes, 20 seconds.
Teammate Micah Rees did not achieve his goal of the top 30, placing 36th in 17:17. Fairfield’s Gavin Van Veen was 96th in 18:05.
Van Veen teammate Kaiden Mickels said Van Veen’s goal was to not finish last. A more serious Fairfield coach Jerrod Belzer said that 17:30 was the target time.
Sobaski completed the race with the third fastest time in school history. He was the first Demon male to earn a medal at state which meant eighth is the highest finish ever by a Washington Demon.
“Both Lance and Micah ran great races,” WHS coach Stefanie Haworth said. “Lance was in the top-8 the whole race. He was very determined to medal.”
Both of them were ranked during the season, ran relaxed and had fun and that was a common goal. It was a great season for them and all Demons, boys and girls.
“We had so many fans come up cheering them on and supporting them,” Haworth said. “It was a great day!”
"I finished like I wanted, I went out hard, found my spot, just went with the flow and stayed with a pack,“ Sobaski said. "I sped up on the hills, but kept my same pace, saving it for the kick at the finish. I gave it my all. I am numb to the point where I couldn’t race any more.”
In the last half of the race, Sobaski ran by himself. State racing has many competitors at the same skill level, especially compared to regular season’s smaller meets. Proof Sobaski is one of a kind: seventh place finished seven seconds ahead of Sobaski, while ninth place was seven seconds behind him.
All year, Sobaski dominated. Sobaski has said he doesn’t have a strategy in a race, he just goes with the flow. Maybe going with the flow is in itself a strategy.
“I run my race,” he said. “I let others worry about theirs, I worry about mine and we will see who is on top at the end. I use mental strength that I’m just going to keep my pace. I’m always running my race.”
Sobaski started out front but was in the second pack of runners after a mile. The gap grew in the second mile, but stayed the same in the third.
The state meet alone is a crazy atmosphere then friends and classmates show up for support. “To me, that’s family,” Sobaski said. “It means the world that they give up their day, drive so far and it’s just to see us run.”
Most competitive athletes want to make state. Rees had seen the course last year as a freshman, but now has run it, under pressure, with the crowds. “Now that I did, I’m glad I’m done. I can’t wait for next season already. It’s been super fun.”
Rees’ goal was top 30 because he had been ranked during the year and the rankings list 30 runners. “I’m fine with how I did but it motivates me for next year. I don’t think I was too mentally prepared.”
Rees know things now. He knows that a half mile from finishing, he struggled. He now knows to conserve more, what part of the course, challenged him the most “The start happened a lot quicker than I thought, so less time to get nervous.”
Rees wasn’t nervous until 30 minutes before the start and thought it would be worse. “I thought I would be nervous all weekend. It was great, answered prayers.”
“Micah had an incredible race for it being his first time running at state,“ Haworth said. “He ran controlled and didn't let his nerves get to him. I think having Lance running with him helped a lot.”