As he took a stride around the final turn, Kuemper Catholic’s Tyler Putney faced nothing but green grass and seven other runners ahead of him.
All he had to do was make the run down the straight path, roughly the size of a football field, and he’d be on his way to a second-straight trip to the State cross country meet.
Putney’s strides took him down the straight, and he was able to finish ninth overall in Thursday’s race held at Atlantic. His time was recorded at 17:25.79.
Now, all he had to do was cheer on his teammates.
The next teammate making his way around the final turn was Michael Pottebaum. Pottebaum was in a race all his own.
“I knew that this was all or nothing,” Pottebaum said about what pushed him as he fought through burning lungs and tired legs the last 300 feet of the course. “I kind of pushed as hard as I could.”
Pottebaum was surrounded by a pack of runners, all of whom were trying to secure a spot in next week’s State race. All of them had something to gain and something to lose.
On the sidelines Kuemper fans and coaches were yelling, trying to push Pottebaum who was about 13th (the top-15 make the State meet) to run faster, and not let him get passed.
“I kind of got angry with myself for being so far behind,” Pottebaum said. Before he entered the final turn Pottebaum was about 15th, on the brink of having his season end. He used that anger to push himself.
“So I basically started running faster and faster until I could get up there (in the top-15),” Pottebaum said.
The late push worked, and Pottebaum passed two runners, on his way to a 13th-place finish, and a ticket to the State meet next week. Overall, Pottebaum finished with a time of 17:44.
“It feels pretty good (to qualify), but I don’t think its hit me quite yet,” the sophomore said about qualifying to his first State meet.
For Putney, this year will be his second state meet.
“I knew that there was a lot of good competition here, we had the top-three teams and a number of the top runners, including the fastest overall,” Putney said. “I wasn’t trying to pace my race off him, just trying to pace myself on everyone else. I knew that there were about eight runners I could hang with, and I wanted to stay with them.”
Putney said he broke into the top-10 around the 2.5 mile mark. It took him a little longer than usual to break to the top because of the hilly and twists of the Atlantic course.
The two Kuemper teammates weren’t the only area athletes to make the State meet.
IKM-Manning’s Quentin Dreyer would finish in seventh place at the class 1A qualifying meet held in Mount Ayr. Overall he finished with a time of 17:25.63 to qualify to Saturday’s State meet.
The State cross country meet will be held at Fort Dodge’s Lake side golf course this Saturday.