Seniors Brendan Owens of Ankeny Centennial and Abel Squires of Ankeny are both key members of their respective boys’ cross country squads.
Squires placed 50th with a time of 17 minutes 1 second in the CIML Conference meet on Wednesday at DMACC. He helped the fourth-ranked Hawks to a two-point victory over No. 1 Dowling Catholic to capture the league title.
Owens took 40th in 16:47 at the same race. He helped the No. 12 Jaguars to a seventh-place finish.
Here is some inside info on the duo:
What has been the highlight of your season?
Owens: The highlight of my season so far has been being able to compete with the guys in every race and just going out and having fun.
Squires: I’d say the highlight of my season was probably winning conference.
Were you happy with your performance at the conference meet? What did you think of your team’s performance?
Owens: I wasn’t too happy with my performance, but I’m glad the rest of the guys were able to have good races.
Squires: I personally didn’t perform the best, but all the other boys ran amazing–9/10, JV and varsity. The best part is knowing that this was only a small showcase of our potential as a team.
Abel, your team won a conference championship for the first time since 2007. Were you aware that it had been that long?
Squires: I was not aware of the drought.
Your team had just lost to Dowling by 56 points at the Fort Dodge Invitational on Oct. 5. Did you think you had a chance to beat the Maroons going into the meet?
Squires: We want to beat every team, but we don’t orient our success by other teams. We know we can only control our performances on any given day so we execute and trust our training. With the work we have put in since June, we have a chance against any team.
Brendan, your team finished just one point behind Valley and six points behind Urbandale. What was your team’s goal going into the meet?
Owens: We went out there with the goal to just have fun and see what we can do because we know the real race is coming up (on Wednesday).
This was your last time running on your home course. Do you like the DMACC course compared to other courses?
Owens: Overall, I think DMACC is a good course because it’s relatively flat so there is always a chance to PR.
As a senior, are you trying to be a leader for your team? If so, how?
Owens: As a senior, it’s definitely important to be a leader and help prepare the underclassmen for the future. Obviously, we try to help them out when it comes to racing and training, but more importantly we as seniors want them to become good people so we do a lot of team-bonding.
Squires: Yeah, absolutely. I do my best to encourage everyone at practice and keep everyone focused and ready to go. Truman Patterson was a senior I really looked up to, and he was a great example of a servant leader. I strive in many ways to be like him when it comes to leadership. Overall, being a leader is not a very difficult job because there’s lots of other guys on the team that are also great leaders, and I think we work well together with all of our different strengths.
Abel, your teammate Ethan Zuber was the individual conference champion and is the top-ranked runner in Class 4A. What is it like to run with him in practice, and do you think he can win a state title?
Squires: Ethan is a remarkable individual. He’s one of the most driven and competitive (not to mention talented) people I have ever met. He does a great job of giving his all every day in practice and after during recovery. This year he’s also become a more vocal leader, and he really gets everyone motivated. He is going to do special things in this sport. I would bet the house on Zuber winning a state title.
Brendan, your teammate AJ Schermerhorn placed second at the conference meet and is ranked No. 3 in Class 4A. What do you think has been the key to his success this season?
Owens: AJ is a very hard worker and extremely competitive. He takes his training very seriously and strives to be the best in everything he does. He had a very strong track season and summer training went very well so at this point he is just trusting his training.
Abel, your team has been assigned to the Ames site for the state qualifying meet on Wednesday. What did you think of your assignment, and do you like the Iowa State cross country course?
Squires: Ames is always a fun course to run on, and it’s a favorite of a lot of the guys. There’s some fast competition, too, so it will be a good meet.
Brendan, your team has been assigned to the site hosted by Iowa City West. What did you think of your assignment?
Owens: I believe we are running at the Ashton course in Iowa City. I think it’s a great course, and our district gives us a great opportunity to compete.
What are your goals for the rest of the season?
Owens: The goal for the rest of the season as a team is to place higher than any other Centennial team has at state. Individually, I would like to break 16 (minutes).
Squires: All year our team’s focus has been on a state title. That’s my No. 1 goal. I want to do anything I can do to help accomplish that end. When we get to Fort Dodge, I’m going to run my heart out and end my season on a high note.
Plans for next year? Would you like to run in college?
Owens: I plan to continue running in college, although I have not yet decided on a school.
Squires: Yes, I plan on running collegiately. I have a few schools I’m deciding between right now. I’m still figuring out which school will help me flourish the most spiritually, academically and athletically.