OTTUMWA — Cody McConnell is in the home stretch, so to speak.
For McConnell, an Ottumwa track and field distance runner and a two-time state qualifier on the cross country team, his goal for his final track and field season is quite simple: "My primary goal for this season is just to stay injury free," McConnell said. "Staying injury free is just the top priority now."
McConnell competed in a slew of races including the mile, the 3,200-meter run, the 1,600-meter run, the 800 meters and the 4x400 relay race. So what does it take to be a varsity distant runner on a track and field team?
"A lot of offseason work," McConnell said. "Right now I'm around 50 miles per week. I held that during the offseason. To be a good stance runner, you want to work during the offseason. You can't really start right when the season starts because then you are behind.
"You have to think there is someone else in the state running and you're not," McConnell said. "You have to work as hard as anyone else in the state."
Ottumwa coach Jim Nickerson said McConnell's goals this season include reaching the Ottumwa Hall of Fame standard in the 3,200 and the 1,600. This would mean running the 1,600 in under 4:30 and the 3,200 in under 10:04.
"I think running is one of his favorite things to do," Nickerson said. "He's one of those guys who can put in the miles in without people being with him all the time.This should be his year to really step out and attain the goals that he has."
While cross country requires a lot of energy and exertion, track and field workouts are even more laborious.
"Track workouts are more diverse because you run more miles and you have more speed work," McConnell said.