MOVILLE, Iowa – If there is extra pep in the running of Suzanne Putze this fall, there are plenty of reasons.
The Woodbury Central senior is enjoying her final prep season on the cross country course not only because of her individual success, where she has won all four of her meets this season, but the added team success as well.
The combined Woodbury Central/Kingsley-Pierson squad which began the season unranked by the Iowa Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches, has risen to No. 3 in Class 2A, winning three of its four meets to start the campaign.
Throw in the fact that Suzanne has her younger twin sisters, Mary and Sarah, both freshmen, on the team this year and it has provided another push to the three-time state qualifier and two-time state medalist.
“Sometimes, when I’m at practice I’ll look to my right, look to my left and there they are,” Putze said. “I’ve waited for the time for them to be right up here with me. It’s just so special to be able to run along with them and congratulate each other after the meet.
“It’s just something that I’m so lucky that I can do for one year, but I’m excited to be able to watch them throughout their next couple of years too.”
Putze’s latest victory, the 21st of her four-year career out of 36 races, came Saturday at the Tim Thomas Invitational in Holstein, where she posted a 19:08.49 time over 5,000-meters, the third fastest time of her career.
More importantly, the Sioux City Journal’s Siouxland Athlete of the Week led the WC/KP squad to a team championship. Putze, one of three seniors, along with Rylee Wright and KayLynne Bechen, joined four freshmen on the seven-member varsity, six of them running in the top 24 to finish with 49 points.
“She loves the team aspect, the idea that not only her sisters, but that the team is good,” said WC/KP co-coach Jill Gallagher, who guides the squad along with Dean Harpenau. “Those three seniors got that feeling as freshmen and they really enjoyed it and now they are really enjoying that team success again and, obviously, with her having her sisters there it makes it even better.”
The three seniors are looking to help guide the WC/KP squad back to the state meet as a team this year, something they experienced as freshmen when they became the first in team history to accomplish the feat.
The daughter of Matthew and Angie Putze of Moville, has seen the growth in the team over the years, from barely being able to field a varsity five to now having full varsity and junior varsity squads.
“Watching has really made me push myself harder knowing that I just want to be ready. I wanted to be ready for when we had this really strong team,” said Putze, who ran with older sister Michelle earlier in her career. “To be able to be a good leader to them and push them in practice and push myself in practice. Last year it helped me look forward to this year and push myself harder because I was just so excited.”
That makes this final season that much more meaningful for Putze and the seniors.
“It’s so special, every year all four of these years have been so different in regard to how many girls have been on the team,” she said. “It’s so amazing to be able to see that big group of us. Watching everyone come through that finish, it’s so special they just love it. I’m just so excited for them because I can see ahead for them and it’s going to turn out great.”
A fourth trip to state is most likely ahead for Putze, but it’s the team berth she probably covets more than the individual appearance in Fort Dodge, where she finished 14th in the 2A race last year.
“It would be amazing, that is something that freshman year, I don’t really know, freshman year was just a blur,” she said. “All the success that we had was so much fun it was over so soon, then you had sophomore and junior year to look back on that freshman year. I would do anything to repeat and be able to make it back to state like we did freshman year, so it would be a very special way to end my senior year.”
“They felt that not only they contributed so much, but that was such a great experience to be the first team to go (to state) and to do it as freshmen and for her to have gone individually the next two years was great,” said Gallagher. “She is enjoying it more, yes I would say, because the team is also successful.
“She has just been an absolute joy to coach these four years.”
Ashtyn Veerbeek, Western Christian...Senior hitter had 58 kills, 11 blocks as Wolfpack posted a 6-0 mark to win the rugged Sioux County Invitational on Saturday.
A.J. Nemesio, Akron-Westfield....Senior quarterback passed for 263 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 133 yards in a 26-0 triumph over Woodbury Central to open district play for the Westerners.