A team trip to the state cross country meet in Fort Dodge was the highlight of the Beckman girls’ season. This year’s Blazers were the first in 25 years to qualify as a team and this year’s team not only made it but ended in the top-10, not too shabby for a team comprised of mostly underclassmen.

The lone senior on the state squad, Sydney Reiter, came in sixth on the team. But her contribution to the squad went beyond times. “Sydney was the captain of the girls’ squad this year,” said coach Tyson Squiers. Other seniors on the girls’ squad include Paula Braun and Valery Meyer. “Underclassmen look to the seniors for direction and guidance, especially those who have been on the team for a while. They were great role models, always willing to lend a hand. There will definitely be big holes to fill next season.”

With such a young team, the future looks bright for the Blazer girls. Sophomore Maria Kruse made her second straight trip to state, having qualified individually last year. She holds the all-time school record time for girls and has led the team from the start.

“We added six new names to our top-10 times this season (four were girls),” added Squiers. “For the girls, sophomore Julia Mertz claimed the third spot (20:42), freshman Madelyn Reiter fourth (20:43), junior Abby Knepper fifth (21:08), and sophomore Maria Dudzik eighth (22:07). Maria Kruse also still holds the school record.

“Having state meet experience as a team now will give us some extra confidence. We have had quite the season to build from and returning everyone will make for an exciting 2022.

“The girls also had their first meet victory in recent history (Vinton-Shellsburg Invitational, Sept. 21). The state-qualifying team wasn’t even born the last time Beckman made the field. Lastly, a top-10 at state was also a first for the program. Needless to say, it was a historic season for Beckman cross country.

“We track time improvements over the season, one of our main focuses. But our team improved beyond just times. With as large a team as we had this year, many of our athletes were first-time runners. With experience, they get a better understanding of how the 5K race works as well as how the training connects with it. So, as the season wears on, times improve rapidly. Once that clicks in, success comes with it. “Buying in” is always a notion I think is important, doing all those little things that are necessary and putting cross country as one of your priorities, at least during the season.

“Each year we improve a little more and this year was definitely a big stepping stone. I think when you see what’s possible, it becomes more real and makes buying in a little easier.

“I’m so proud of how this season went. It really felt like we had arrived as a strong, competitive team and was a major turning point in our program. We greatly appreciate the support we’ve received from both the Beckman Catholic and the Dyersville communities. I hope that our successes this year translate into more numbers next year. Our athletes are great ambassadors for our sport and the Beckman program. I hope others will give the cross country program a try. It can be very rewarding and you share your successes with the whole team.

“I’m very excited about the future, as is our team. We had a fantastic 2021 season and look to 2022 to be even better,” concluded Squiers.

Season-best times for the girls’ team include: Kruse 20:12, Mertz 20:42, Madelyn Reiter 20:43, Knepper 21:08, Dudzik 22:07, Sydney Reiter 24:00, Ellie Recker 24:03, Jordan Thier 24:30, Mallory Rea 24:40, Mary Reed 25:36, Paula Braun 25:47, Marie Grebner 25:51, Chloe Thier 27:51 and Valery Meyer 31:58.