Prep Sports

Clear Creek Amana siblings Brandon and Haidyn Barker return to state cross country meet

Both Solon teams advance to Fort Dodge

CCA's Brandon Barker finishes first in the varsity boys' 5k race at the Clear Creek Amana Invitational cross country mee
CCA's Brandon Barker finishes first in the varsity boys' 5k race at the Clear Creek Amana Invitational cross country meet at Kickers Soccer Club in Iowa City on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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MONTICELLO — Both the Solon boys’ and girls’ cross country teams qualified for the state meet next week.

The boys won Wednesday’s Class 3A state qualifier while the girls clinched a spot in Fort Dodge with a third-place finish, thanks to all seven runners finishing between 10th and 20th.

The top three teams and top 15 individuals advance to the state meet, Oct. 30 at Lakeside Golf Course, Fort Dodge.

Dubuque Wahlert’s senior duo of Gabby Moran and Alix Oliver crossed 1-2 with times of 18:53 and 19:09. The Golden Eagles won the team title with 26 points. Davenport Assumption was second.

Clear Creek Amana’s Haidyn Barker became the top area qualifier in third with a time of 19:13 that will send the sophomore back to the state meet.

The quiet leader was determined to improve her position against rival Solon after finishing behind several Spartans at last week’s Wamac Conference meet.

“When she finished at the Wamac meet and had lost to Solon, one of the first things she said when I asked how she felt was, ‘Tired, but I could have beat Solon,’” Clippers assistant coach Paige O’Brien said. “She is the kind of girl that is made of very few words, but you can just tell that she has this fire and competitiveness within her.”

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O’Brien would know. The 2011 Union Community graduate spent her collegiate career running cross country and track at Coe before graduating in 2015 and taking her current position with Clear Creek Amana as a K-5 P.E. teacher. She has also coached Barker since seventh grade.

“She’s a fun athlete to watch run,” O’Brien said. “She’s our silent leader and is always doing what she needs to be doing, when she needs to be doing it. It’s natural for everyone to follow along and it makes coaching really easy.”

Another major supporter of Barker is her big brother, Brandon, who is a senior at CCA and qualified as an individual by winning the boys’ race in a time of 16:17. Teammate Gavin Zillvette will join him in Fort Dodge after taking third in 16:38.

The Clippers finished fourth as a team behind state qualifiers Solon, West Delaware and Dubuque Wahlert.

A four-time state qualifier, Brandon Barker has been a bit of a surprise in a family full of runners.

The Barkers’ father, Thad, ran at Bettendorf before meeting their mother, Suzy, at the University of Iowa in marching band. Suzy didn’t start running until after college, but quickly realized much success as a road-course runner.

“Running has always been a big part of my family,” Brandon said. “I was always the worst when I was younger. They would all win their age category and my older sister Kaylie would win the whole race and I would win nothing. I might win a door prize if I was lucky.”

Brandon joked that, “Going into seventh grade my parents didn’t even buy me spikes. I wasn’t expected to be anything, but by the end of the year I came in second at middle school state and then I won it in eighth grade.”

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Now Brandon hopes to improve on his podium placement at the big race after finishing 11th as a junior.

“If I could crack the top 8-10, that’d be really awesome,” Brandon said.

As for his sister?

“She definitely has the ability to medal too,” Brandon said with confidence. “I just want to see her run a good race and hopefully get a medal.”

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