Rylee Dunkin

Twin Cedars High School Principal Dave Roby stated, “Rylee (Dunkin) is not going to the state meet to get the other kids autographs, she is going to Fort Dodge to win.”

TC freshman Rylee Dunkin finished second at the Class 1A State Qualifying Meet in Marshalltown last week. The top 15 runners all punched their tickets to the State Cross Country Meet in Fort Dodge Saturday.

Dunkin described herself as a 5’0” 98 pound freshman who has a burning desire to giver her best at all times.

Roby commented, “Rylee is a girl who has a lot of mental toughness and the heart of a lion.”

Twin Cedars Head Cross Country Coach Trent Verwers said, “Rylee is the definition of grit. She is the first to practice and the last to leave. She will run 3-miles, then run through a brick wall without being asked to do so. She is wonderful to coach and she makes my job easier.”

Verwers said he wants Rylee to aim for at least a top five finish in Fort Dodge.

Rylee is the daughter of Twin Cedars graduates Kurt and Heather Dunkin.

She has raced nine times this year and won two of the races. Claiming first at Lynnville-Sully and Mediapolis.

The Sabers have not backed down when it comes to facing stiff competition throughout the season.

Dunkin has raced against Knoxville’s Norah Pearson, also a freshman, ranked among the best runners in 3A on numerous occasions.

Dunkin is currently ranked sixth as she makes the trek to Fort Dodge.

“Running against some of the other top runners, only makes me better,” Dunkin said. “Knoxville’s Norah Pearson is one who pushes me to be better. I try to stay close to her.”

The TC runner has only lost to one girl in Class 1A and that was at the Marshalltown State Qualifier when Sophia Jungling of Aplington-Parkersburg won the race. Jungling enters the state competition ranked No. 2 in Class 1A.

Both Roby and Coach Verwers said Dunkin worked very hard to get where she is at.

Dunkin plays volleyball as well as participating in cross country this fall. She also plays basketball, runs track and plays softball.

“My favorite sport is softball, but cross country is right up there,” Dunkin said.

Roby said, “Regardless of what happens at State, I know she is hungry and she is a champion. She is very special and in every aspect of life she is a 10.”

The Class 1A girls race at State starts at 2 p.m. at the Lakeside Golf Course north of Fort Dodge.

“I’d like to thank everyone for the support they have given me and for my coaches for pushing me to be the best I can be,” Dunkin stated.

Perry Bell can be reached at sports@journalexpress.net or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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