BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – It’s not a family thing…it might be a genetic thing…but it’s certainly a running thing.
HTC eighth grader Philip Goldie went the entire middle school cross country season without ever crossing the finish line after someone else.
At this past weekend’s Washburn Middle School State meet, Goldie put the finishing touches on the season, taking first place with an 11:19 time in the two-mile event. He beat St. Ansgar’s Riley Witt by eight seconds, helping HTC’s 8th grade team to a second-place finish behind Central Springs.
Goldie has his sights set on a varsity spot next year, but said he hasn’t really tried to set his pace on the longer 3 mile, or 5K events.
This is just Goldie’s 2nd year of organized running, joining the cross country team as a seventh grader a year ago.
He said he was given a choice of playing baseball, track, or cross country when he entered the Holy Trinity middle school.
“The reason I started was because I had a choice of track, baseball, or cross-country. I picked cross-country because I’m really bad at baseball and I really didn’t want to do track. But it turns out…I’m pretty good at it,” Goldie said Tuesday afternoon.
Matt Mohrfeld, who coaches the varsity and junior high runners for HTC, said Goldie came along pretty quickly once he realized the impact he could have on the team.
“When he’s clipping out some of the other shorter races, we had him pegged at a 5:20 pace (per mile). And we just found out a little bit ago, that if they had run all the classes at state together, Philip would have finished in third out of all the classes,” Mohrfeld said.
The state meet was run in classes and was divided by 7th and 8th grades. HTC is one of the smaller schools at most events and runs Class 1A, but Goldie’s time put him in the top four of all classes at the event. He was two seconds faster than the winner of the 2A run and he trailed only the top two runners in Class 3A and in the largest class, which was 4A, his time would have been good enough for second.
Those are clock finishes and it’s really unknown how Goldie would have finished considering he rarely had anyone in front of him during the year and when he did, he usually was able to catch them.
“At state there was a runner who kept up with me but someone he knows was standing off to the side of the race and I heard someone tell him to speed up because I was about 10 feet behind him. All I heard him say was, ‘I can’t’, so I just passed him around the next corner.”
Goldie said running is actually exhausting and when he’s running the only thing he’s thinking about is finishing.
“It’s really exhausting at the beginning when you think you still have the whole race in front of you, but I kind of enjoy the part when I’m running and it feels good. During races you have that adrenaline built up and you don’t think about the pain in your legs and stomach. At that point it’s just about winning.”
Mohrfeld said Goldie has been under a very specific training protocol since the summer.
“For all practical purposes, he trained under a high school trainer and he didn’t get cut much slack on times and distances. A little, but not much. He was just so quick and his endurance is better and he’ll articulate very well to the 5K. The base is there he just needs to get exposure to the longer runs,” Mohrfeld said.
“All of a sudden next year we’ve got some eight graders who are moving up to varsity and we’ve got Matt Hellige up there who we’ll probably send to state this year. Mikey DiPrima is going to be good and Matt’s a really good role model.
Goldie said Hellige will be the number one runner because he seems to be able to run forever.
“Matt’s going to be the number one runner. He has way better endurance than I do. He can just go forever and when he’s done, he’ll just go out and run some more,” he said.
Goldie said he’s the only one in his family that enjoys running. He started several years back when he was at home playing video games and his mom told him to go for a run.
“So I got up and went outside and ran to the highway and back. It was just about two miles and I didn’t stop. I don’t stop. I just want to get it over with,” he said.
Mohrfeld said Goldie has that inherent drive to run.
“The one thing I’ll say is there is a desire to win here, but it still comes down to winning the genetic lottery. He’s a runner. Don’t get me wrong, he moaned a lot during the year and would ask, ‘why am I doing this to race two miles?’, but I think it all sank in at the end.” Mohrfeld said.
“I guess I just got long legs,” Goldie said.