ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa – It says something when a state cross country team and individual title and a pair of individual state track champions add up to an unsatisfying senior season.
It helps explain why Central Lyon’s Gable Sieperda has enjoyed the career he has achieving plenty, but satisfied almost never. A prep career with plenty of peaks and valleys culminated during his final season as he helped Central Lyon/George-Little Rock its first cross country state title ever, and concluded it with a pair of Drake Relays and state track individual championships.
Add in a third trip to the state wrestling tournament and the senior who is set to run at Iowa State University beginning this fall is the Sioux City Journal’s Siouxland Male Athlete of the Year.
“He sets himself goals and sometimes you think he sets them too high, but he knows exactly the direction that he wants to go,” CL/GLR cross country co-head coach Curt Fiedler said. “He works hard at achieving those goals and that is probably one of his greatest attributes. He is just a hard worker and wants to get the things done he sets his goals on.
“If Gable sets a goal and he doesn’t get it he always knows, ‘you know what, there is going to be a time and place that I am going to be in the right situation, someone is going to push me, it is going to be a great race and I am going to achieve those goals.’”
The cross country state championship was not only the program's first title but its first trophy. Sieperda ran away with the individual title he so coveted heading into his final prep cross country race, breaking away from the field, and ultimately coming home with an all-class best of 15:18.6 over the 5,000-meter course.
Sieperda had finished third and sixth twice the previous three years. However, it was the drive to get his team to the top that was a major motivator.
“He really held the team accountable to become a state championship team,” Fiedler said. “It was pretty easy to coach a guy like Gable, but it made it far easier to coach the team with him being the leader of that team.
“There would be times we would walk out the door to train and he would be grouped up with the kids out there. The coaches would just look at each other and go, ‘this is going to be a good day.’ He has got them fired up and they are ready to go.”
Injuries essentially robbed Sieperda of his sophomore season, but he was a four-time state cross country medalist. He was a highly-ranked wrestler, who entered his final season as a two-time state placer, only to have a late-season hand injury derail his final trip to Wells Fargo as he went 0-2.
“He was a tremendous leader and athlete,” CLGLR wrestling coach Curtis Eben said. “He worked harder than anyone I have been around when it comes to this sport. He has a true passion for wrestling .. obviously he fell short of some of the goals he wanted to reach, but this year, his senior year, with an injury that most kids would have given up on, Gable fought through it to the end.”
Sieperda closed out his high school running career winning state titles by setting new state marks in the 3,200 and 1,600 meters. He also won a pair of Drake Relays titles in the same events, the first two Drake flags of his career. In all Sieperda won five state track titles in his career and led Central Lyon to back-to-back third place team showings.
Sieperda may be moving on from high school but his impact will continue to be felt for years to come.
“Our hope is always to see a graduate to come back and I was just texting with Gable,” Fiedler said. “He said he wanted to come join us for a day before he went off to school. Nothing more satisfying than seeing an athlete come back to the program after they have graduated.”