Western Dubuque’s boys cross country team had a solid season in 2019 as the Bobcats won some invitationals and sent an individual to the Class 4A State Meet.

“I thought we had a very successful season,” coach Mark Digmann said. “The boys at the varsity level set the tone for the rest of the groups. We told our younger kids that their goal this year was to continue to improve so that they would be able to step into the roles and places that our seniors would be leaving this year. I think we did that and have some kids that are ready to step into the roles our seniors are leaving. The goal they need to have now is to continue to get better so that our overall performance from this year doesn’t fall off and actually improves.”

Digmann didn’t have to think long to come up with the highlights to the season.

“Going to Waverly and winning the team trophy for the first time in school history and medaling six of the top eight places in the senior boys’ race was an early highlight,” Digmann said. “Winning at West Delaware and improving our super conference, divisional and district places from last year were also goals that we had that were accomplished. Getting Cade (Messer) qualified to the state meet was also a huge success. The only goal we had that we fell short on was getting the boys’ team qualified for state.”

Western Dubuque will lose 12 seniors to graduation — Levi Burds, Kale Cartee, Connor Coyle, Cody Gadberry, Matt Gassman, Trenton Hammerand, Jack Haverland, Austin Huberty, Tony Lyon, Ben Mulert, Brice Ronek and Noah Westhoff.

“This group of seniors was the core of our team this year. We had eight of 12 see time at the varsity level at one time or another,” Digmann said. “Kale, Connor, Trenton, Austin, and Ben were always in the varsity lineup. When we could run 10, Matt, Brice and Noah all stepped in. Three of them ran under 17 and another four ran under 18 this year. Jack and Cody both ran their career personal records in the last three meets. Tony and Levi ran great senior seasons and filled the roles that we needed them to fill. All 12 of these kids will be greatly missed for what they have done for our program over the last four years.”

This season was marked with several top Bobcat finishes. “We had our first meet where the team average was under 17 minutes in school history this year, averaging 16:59 for our top five at West Delaware. Thirty-one of our 40 kids ran career personal best times this season and 22 of those did them in the last three meets, which is what you would like to be best at the end,” Digmann said.

Looking at the future of WD CC, Digmann is happy with what he foresees.

“We have Cade Messer coming back as a senior and two-time individual state qualifier. Eli Naumann will be back and he ran this year in the 2-3-4 range. Devin Neuhaus and Eric Monahan ran some varsity this year and we will be looking for them to have good summers and should be able to help out next year. We also have some current freshmen that should be able to get into the discussion. We’ll continue to be competitive,” he said.

Digmann will look back on this year and use it to improve his squad in years to come.

“We kept getting faster and faster as the season went on. Our staff needs to see if something happened with them and how we trained them, but I think we actually peaked too early,” Digmann said. “It didn’t seem as though we ran as well after the West Delaware meet. We had some sickness, some nagging injuries, and things like that, but at that time of the season, everyone does. This is not to diminish what we were able to accomplish during the season, but more for us to look for ways to improve going forward.”

The season-best times run this year follow: Messer 16:34; Mulert 16:44; Huberty 16:54; Eli Nauman 16:58; Trenton Hammerand 17:09; Connor Coyle 17:18; Cartee 17:22; Gassman 17:26; Monahan and Brice Ronek 17:54; Westhoff 18:12; Neuhaus 18:52; Levi Meyer 19:12; Dylan Schroeder 19:23; Drew Meyer 19:44; Jack Haverland 19:50; Ethan Hoefler 20:05; Ben Soppe 20:06; Brady Horsfall 20:08; Derek Fangmann 20:17; Jacob Gottschalk 20:25; William Lopez, Isaiah Hammerand and Michael Kemp 20:31; Connor Dolphin 20:38; Caden Coyle 21:27; Gadberry 21:50; Timmy Horsfall 22:17; Jacob Stanner 22:20; Thomas Blair 22:28; Burds 22:36; Mitchell Gudenkauf 22:48; Lyon 22:52; Will Cosley 24:09; and Cayle Hermsen 24:41.