KALONA, Iowa - Amelia Morrow won her first varsity race in style, breaking the course record at the Iowa Mennonite School Earlybird Invitational here Tuesday night.
The Iowa City High senior led seven Little Hawk runners across the finish line for a clean sweep by her team. Her time of 20:15.09 easily topped the Girls 5k course record of 20:28.82 set by Muscatine's Brina Craft in 2015.
City's Kinsee Brands (20:18.78) also bested Craft's time in finishing second. Teammates Aly Hecker (20:38.15), Anna Lindower (20:42.01), Esti Brady (20:47.02), Gabriel McCormick (21:03.86) and Annalise Rummelhart (21:26.42) rounded out the top seven.
Winfield Mount Union's Pearl Krieger-Colble (21:39.80) and Cecelia Hemsworth (22:33.30) finished eight and 10th, respectively. Montezuma's Elise Boulton (21:48.16) took ninth.
"I don't think I've really had a race like this before," Morrow said. "The team decided we were going to stay in a pack through the first mile and I think we were all just feeding off of each other. When we got into the second mile, I realized I was towards the front and I started cheering on the girls that were next to me."
Those girls beat Morrow in workouts. They returned the encouragement and she began believing winning was possible.
"They kept saying, "you can push it harder. I know you can do it,"" Morrow said. "In the back of my head, I was kind of like, well, why can't I do it? I guess from there I just kind of went for it."
Brands stayed close on Morrow's heels, pushing her teammate.
"My goal was to win it but I did my best. The first race is out of the way," she said.
Brands liked that the team stayed together through the first mile and sees it as a building block for the rest of the season.
"We're going to win if we stay together," she said. "It pushes us and helps us all make sure we stay together."
Like Morrow, Hecker enjoyed her finest varsity race. She surprised herself.
"I get kind of nervous before meets and I was kind of worried that I wouldn't do well for my team so it was really good," she said.
City's 15 points easily outdistanced Washington (106) and Cedar Rapids Jefferson (112), which finished second and third, respectively. Highland (139) and Winfield Mount Union (143) rounded out the top five.