INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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SPRINGVILLE — Samantha Uhlenkamp repeatedly asks herself the question: What took me so long?
"I’ve never been part of something this successful," said Uhlenkamp, a senior at Central City High School. "I regret not doing this three years ago."
A former volleyball player, Uhlenkamp joined the Springville-Central City girls’ cross country team this season. Little did she know that she would be one of the final pieces of a powerhouse puzzle.
Nine girls from two schools have created a team that is likely to emerge from Thursday's regional at Monticello and advance to next week’s state meet at Fort Dodge. Springville-Central City is ranked No. 3 in Class 2A.
“Every meet, they find a way to surprise me,” said S-CC Coach Steve Pershing said. “We set goals at every meet, and every meet, they have exceeded them.”
Springville-Central City ran away with the Tri-Rivers Conference championship last week, winning by 30 points. Freshman Emily Staal was the individual champion in 19:20, 23 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. Janelle Staal, a sophomore, was fourth, followed by Uhlenkamp (fifth), sophomore Elle Scriver (sixth) and senior Katelyn Gloeckner (seventh).
All seven of S-CC’s varsity runners ran 21:05 or better.
“We knew we had potential,” Gloeckner said. “But, no, I didn’t expect us to be this good.”
The arrival of Emily Staal certainly helped. She is ranked 14th individually in 2A.
“We knew she would be special,” Pershing said. “She was one of the top eighth-graders in the state last year.”
Of the top seven runners, four are from Central City (including the Staal sisters, who are home-schooled) and three are from Springville.
“Central City and Springville are big rivals in other sports, but one thing we’ve always stressed with this program is that we are one team. We would have none of the ‘us’ and ‘them’ regarding the two schools,” Pershing said. “I give a lot of credit to (Uhlenkamp and Gloeckner) for the cohesiveness we have.”
“We don’t have any issues,” Gloeckner said. “We’re like a big family. We push each other and support each other, whether on the course or off.”
The top three teams and the top 15 individuals from each site advance to the state meet at Lakeside Golf Course, Fort Dodge, on Oct. 29.
Noelridge Park in Cedar Rapids will host a double competition, in Class 1A (3 p.m.) and 4A (4 p.m.). Pleasant Valley also will host a meet that features area schools.
Decorah and Solon host 3A area teams, with 2A area teams at Garner, Monticello and Pella. Ankeny and Cedar Falls are among the 1A sites, along with Noelridge.
At Cedar Rapids (Seminole Valley) — Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Washington, Iowa City High, Linn-Mar, Muscatine, Newton, Ottumwa, Western Dubuque.
At Pleasant Valley — Bettendorf, Burlington, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Clinton, Davenport Central, Davenport North, Davenport West, Iowa City West, North Scott, Pleasant Valley.
At Decorah — Benton, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Center Point-Urbana, Charles City, Crestwood, Decorah, Dubquue Wahlert, Independence, Iowa Falls-Alden/AGWSR, Union, Vinton-Shellsburg, Waverly-Shell Rock, West Delaware.
At Solon — Clear Creek Amana, Davenport Assumption, DeWitt Central, Fairfield, Keokuk, Maquoketa, Marion, Mount Vernon, Notre Dame-West Burlington, Solon, South Tama, Washington, Williamsburg.
At Garner — Clarion CGD-CAL, Clear Lake, Emmetsburg, Forest City, Garner GHV, Hampton-Dumont, New Hampton, North Fayette Valley, Oelwein, Osage, South Hardin, South Winneshiek, Sumner-Fredericksburg, Waterloo Columbus.
At Monticello — Anamosa, Camanche, Cascade, Danville-New London, Dyersville Beckman, Iowa City Regina, Louisa-Muscatine, Mediapolis, Monticello, North Cedar, Northeast, Springville-Central City, Tipton, Waukon, West Liberty.
At Pella — Albia, Aplington-Parkersburg, Baxter CMB, Centerville, Central Lee, Davis County, Dike-New Hartford, East Marshall, Eddyville EBF, Grundy Center GCGR, Mid-Prairie, Monroe PCM, Pella Christian, Van Buren, West Marshall.
At Ankeny — Ankeny Christian, Belmond-Klemme, BGM, Cardinal, Colfax-Mingo, Colo-Nesco, Eagle Grove, HLV, Lynnville-Sully, Madrid, Martensdale-St. Marys, Mason City Newman, Melcher-Dallas, Meskwaki Settlement, Montezuma, Moravia, Nodaway Valley, North Mahaska, Pleasantville, Sigourney, Southeast Warren, Tri-County (girls only), Twin Cedars, Wayne, West Fork, West Hancock, Woodward-Granger.
At Cedar Falls — Central Springs, Clarksville, Conrad BCLUW, Denver, Don Bosco, Dunkerton, East Buchanan, Edgewood-Colesburg, Elkader Central, Garwin GMG, Hudson, Jesup, Lake Mills, Lansing Kee, MFL MarMac, Nashua-Plainfield, North Butler, North Iowa, North Tama, Postville, Riceville, Rockford, Saint Ansgar, Starmont, Tripoli, Valley Lutheran, Wapsie Valley, Waterloo Christian (girls only).
At Cedar Rapids (Seminole Valley) — Alburnett, Belle Plaine, Bellevue, Bellevue Marquette, Calamus-Wheatland, Clinton Prince of Peace, Clayton Ridge, Columbus Community, Durant, Easton Valley, English Valleys, Fort Madison Holy Trinity, Highland, Iowa Mennonite, Keota, Lone Tree, Maquoketa Valley, Midland, North Linn, Pekin, Rivermont Collegiate, Scattergood Friends, WACO, Wapello, Wilton, Winfield-Mount Union.
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