A little over halfway through the course, a strong headwind threatened to slow down runners in Saturday’s State cross country meet.
For the Carroll County contingent, which consisted of two runners from Kuemper Catholic and an IKM-Manning runner, the head wind only seemed to motivate all three runners.
In the class 3A race, where Kuemper runners Tyler Putney and Michael Pottebaum were racing, Putney led the way with a finish of 49th. He completed the 3.2 mile course in 17:12.
Pottebaum kept pace with Putney through most of the race, but Putney’s kick at the end of the course was where the two Kuemper runners separated. Pottebaum finished 88th with a time of 17:43.2.
Both runners stressed how much the wind really made it hard to focus in the race.
“The wind was hard on breathing, it makes your breath short,” Putney said. “I just tried to stride out and keep my pace going as long as I could.”
Pottebaum also lost his breath fighting the wind.
“The wind really stopped you from getting to the usual pace that you might have wanted to go,” Pottebaum said. “It makes breathing harder, and it plays a big factor while running the race.”
When the wind really picked up, and turned into a head wind, around the 2-mile mark, the runners exited the flatter part of the course and entered the hills.
That’s when Putney really started to make his stride towards the front half of the pack.
“I knew the start of the race was going to be fast, so I tried to get out fast, but not too fast because that’s what I did last year,” Putney said, recalling how last year the fast start tired him out too fast. “This year I tried to keep my pace and keep the pace of the group in front of me, especially since the straightaways here are so narrow. I was trying to get around people. It wasn’t until the last mile, mile and a half that I could use the hills to get around people. That’s when I started to pick up the pace.”
Putney sliced through the wind, and competitors, passing nearly 20 other runners in the last mile of the run on Saturday.
While Putney entered the race with experience, Pottebaum was a State rookie, but luckily he had a secret weapon helping his run.
“I was a little nervous going into the race, but I talked to my cousin who ran in the race before and he did pretty good.,” Pottebaum said. “He kept pushing me and told me where I was, and that helped a lot on the course.”
In the late afternoon it was time for the 1A race where IKM-Manning’s Quentin Dreyer finished with a time of 17:32, which placed him 42nd overall.
“My goal coming in was to get top-30 and beat the Manning record since there wasn’t an IKM-Manning record,” Dreyer said. “I think I beat it by about two or three seconds.”
According to Dreyer, the Manning record was about 17:38.
“I knew that it was windy, because it had been windy all day,” Dreyer said. “So I knew that I had to run into it, but I also knew that I might be able to draft off of people, and that’s what I did during the race.”
Dreyer used the draft through the windy hills, and in the last half-mile section of the race, Dreyer had enough energy left to pass several runners, and create a bit of school history along the way.