ROCK FALLS – Lyn Hunter lays out the road map to success for her daughter, Shelby.
From the Quad Cities to Fort Collins, Colo., the Oregon senior's mother calls out all the cities along the route to Colorado while her daughter competes in her cross country meets.
“She focuses on that instead of the pain,” Lyn said Saturday morning at Centennial Park in Rock Falls.
The final destination Saturday was the finish line capping the 3-mile course at the Big Northern Conference Meet. Hunter, along with Rock Falls freshman Makaley Velazquez, reached the end of the chute in 19 minutes, 3 seconds. Velazquez edged her by mere tenths to take eighth place. The Rockets were third as a team with 86 points, 13 more than Winnebago.
Hunter, who was able to reel in Marengo's Kaylin Punotai with a kick over the final 100 meters, was disappointed she couldn't hold off Byron's Kelsey Hildreth.
“I wanted to match up with her, and I had her," Hunter said, "but she’s a really good finisher and she’s got a heck of a kick. She just passed me at the end.”
About a week ago, Hunter was accepted at Colorado State University, where she plans to get a degree in the environmental field. Think park ranger. That sort of thing.
The Hunters have visited Colorado, their summer destination of choice, 11 times.
"So I don’t care what the weather is,” Hunter said. “I like running in any weather, even like this – not just everyday weather.”
Marengo was unfazed by Punotai slipping to 11th, mere tenths behind Rock Falls' Katie Anderson's time of 19:04. The Indians made it a three-peat, going 1-2-3-4-6 for 16 points. Katie Adams ran away with the individual title with a time of 17:19, 73 seconds faster than teammate Allie Sprague. They went 1-2 last year, too.
A light sprinkle turned to gobs of rain seconds before the starter's gun went off.
“I wasn’t expecting to have conditions like this,” Adams said. “I was just kind of hoping for a little bit of a sprinkle, and when we got here for our walkthrough, it was perfect. Why didn’t we run at 9, you know?”
The local runners had mixed feelings about the cloudburst. Hunter enjoyed its distraction. Velazquez appreciated the natural coolant.
“I actually love running in the rain,” Velazquez said. “I love it, because you feel open and able to run perfectly fine. It keeps you cooled off. You don’t get too hot or too cold.”
Her teammates didn't necessarily share that sentiment.
“The whole weather and everything got into my mind, I think," said Sandra Gomez, who placed 23rd in 19:52. "I’ve never really run in this amount of rain. I’ll try to use this experience to get ready for next week, which is more important. I’ll just try to run harder.”
"It just makes you feel … heavy," said Paige Davis, who placed 17th in 19:32.
Davis also lamented the installation of drainage ditches that resulted in muddy messes.
"The Marengo girls were just fine with it," Rock Falls coach Mark Truesdell rebutted.
Before the big move next fall, Hunter's got another destination ahead of her – making the Class 1A sectionals and being able to gun for state on her home course.
Saturday morning, her mother walked the course at Centennial Park to find spots to holler out towns such as Kearney, Neb., and Cheyenne, Wy. But at Oregon Park West?
"I can hear her from any spot on the course," Shelby said.
Visit saukvalley.com/blogs/extra-extra/ to read about who the Rockets can't wait to get back in their lineup for regionals