MCCUNE, SCHULTZ REPRESENT FLYERS; MANGEL THERE, TOO
A severe concussion sustained in gym on Monday, Oct. 16 and a hospital stay in the days that followed prevented Brayden Mangel from competing in what would have been his second State Cross-Country Meet on Saturday, but the Freeman Public eighth grader was there to cheer on his classmate and teammate Lane McCune, as well as seventh grader Olivia Schultz, both of whom were competing in their first state meet.
“It was a little tough to watch Lane run and not be in the race with him, but stuff happens,” he said. “It’s been fun to run together this year; we pushed each other a lot.”
For McCune, that culminated with a top-half finish at Yankton Trail Park on Saturday. McCune was 55th in the field of 115 with a 19:00.25 clocking — a finish with which he felt satisfied.
“I wanted to start fast and then find a pace,” said McCune, who was hindered slightly by a head cold he’s been battling all week. “After the first mile I just kind of wanted to stay in the middle, which I did, and then at the end I got a little further ahead.”
It was a good way to finish a solid season that included a Cornbelt Conference team title for the boys and a solid showing at the region.
“It’s sad that Brayden couldn’t run with us,” McCune said, “but all in all it was a pretty good season.”
The same holds true for Schultz, who was consistently strong in her first year running varsity and finished 89th with a time of 23:39.88 in the field of 113 on Saturday.
It wasn’t a PR, but the young runner was happy afterward.
“I always want to try to get a PR and you always want to finish as strong as possible, with all the gas you’ve got left,” she said. “I wish I would have gotten a new PR because it’s the last race of the year, but it’s fine.”
Schultz said being at state was great.
“I enjoy just running around with all these people — it’s just really fun and a good experience,” she said. “Before the race, when you’re standing on the starting line and he’s telling you the rules, that’s probably the most nerve-wracking part. And then when the gun shoots, you’re just there and it’s not even that scary anymore.”
And Schultz is motivated going forward.
“Since I got this far as a seventh grader, I know I can keep improving and get much better,” she said.
There’s no shortage of motivation for Mangel, either.
While he’s done with contact sports for the year, he’s hopeful to be medically cleared to run track in spring, and says he wants to be back for football and cross-country next fall.
“Since I had to miss out on state this year, next year is going to be big for me,” said Mangel, who notes the biggest challenge he deals with on the heels of the injury is migraines. “Next year is going to be a lot better.”