WASHINGTON — Elite athletes have a certain way of motivating themselves. After his cross-country victory Thursday at the Washington Golf Course, Lance Sobaski was asked how it felt to win the first individual Southeast Conference championship in Washington Demon history.
His reply was, “It will feel a lot better as a two-time conference champion next year.”
Nothing wrong with being greedy, in fact it may be the best motivation for the junior.
On the girls side, Abby Blint claimed the third consecutive Mt. Pleasant individual title and the team took home its fourth consecutive.
It was a sunny but windblown race with the temperature at 56 degrees but the wind chill created the feeling of closer to 40.
“We like the weather, it’s cross-country, it should be tough,” MP head girls coach Lyle Murray said. “Washington ran tough with a solid pack and we knew not to overlook them or they might have got us.”
The Demons were 11 points back, with Abigail Kleese placing sixth, Hannah Rees seventh and Cloe Telleen 11th.
Malena Bloomquist was second as Fairfield girls placed fourth, losing a tiebreaker with FM. The Trojan boys were third as Gavin Van Veen was sixth.
“I love it cooler and you have to know to use wind where it helps you,” Blint said. “It was a good race and it gets me ready for next week.” Next week is state qualifiers with Washington and Mt. Pleasant at Monticello and Fairfield to Pella.
Blint not only used her legs to run, but obtained her title with some brain power. Having run the course Sept. 29, she was able to use knowledge gained that day to speed up over certain areas and improve her time by 21 seconds.
“Everyone on my team is working together and that makes us all faster and I think that’s how we got first,” Blint said. Teammate Belle Meader was third and Cristina Carthey was ninth.
Sobaski improved by nearly 40 seconds from the Sept. 29 meet because Fort Madison’s Austin Miller stayed with him, for a while.
“I opened up on the downhills and didn’t see him after that,” Sobaski said. “I had to keep pushing myself because it gets hard mentally when I’m just staring down the Gator all the time.”
Sobaski used a little trick to tell how far behind Miller was by watching the direction of Fort Madison fans yelling encouragement.
Sobaski also had certain fans of his own show up to witness history. Washington has one team championship and a lot of second-place individuals. Evan Horak was second last year and Sobaski is the first first. “Hearing my buddies on the football team yelling and chanting my name really made a difference. It is one of the home course advantages I had.”
After finishing, Sobaski was mobbed by his fans, although mobbed in a different way because of social distancing.
“Just a fantastic job because Lance ran smart, stayed controlled and did what he needed to do,” WHS head coach Stefanie Haworth said. “I’m thankful we had a great crowd and a lot of support.”
“This is one of the most unique feelings in the world,” Sobaski said.
BOYS TEAM SCORES — 1. Fort Madison 45, 2. Burlington 47, 3. Fairfield 71, 4. Washington 76, 5. Mt. Pleasant 89, 6. Keokuk 190
1. Lance Sobaski (W) 16:54.15
2. Austin Miller (FM) 17:04.59
3. Will Gager (FM) 17:25.40
4. Ben Carthey (MP) 17:33.00
5. Evan Walker (B) 17:43.67
6. Gavin Van Veen (F) 17:43.67
7. Conor Stringer (B) 17:51.31
8. Will Neises (B) 17:53.75
9. Anthony Barnes (FM) 17:57.81
10. Micah Rees (W) 17:58.12 10
GIRLS TEAM SCORES — 1. Mt. Pleasant 39, 2. Washington 50, 3. Ft Madison 67, 4. Fairfield 67 (FM wins tie with sixth runner 23rd to 26th)
1. Abby Blint (MP) 20:23.21
2. Malena Bloomquist (F) 21:07.62
3. Belle Meador (MP) 21:24.85
4. Paetyn Wiegand (FM) 21:32.22
5. Ella Schroeder (B) Burlington 21:51.42
6. Abigail Kleese (W) 21:55.38
7. Hannah Rees (W) 22:02.83
8. Carley Seeley (F) 22:08.35
9. Cristina Carthey (MP) 22:19.54
10. Jordyn Burch (FM) 22:30.05