BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – They had a couple days to put it together, but the Timm Lamb Invitational Cross Country Meet went off without a hitch after being moved from its usual Rodeo Park grounds earlier this week to the Fort Madison Middle School property.
The Rodeo grounds were still saturated and beaten up from the Tri-State Rodeo this weekend and school officials decided Monday that it wouldn’t be a safe place to hold the race and the grounds weren’t sufficient for running.
Junior Matt Hellige took advantage of the new course and had the best time of anyone from Fort Madison with his third-place finish in the Boys B race just :50 off the pace with a 17:51.8 to lead Holy Trinity Catholic to a fourth-place finish.
Fort Madison High School freshman Katelyn Dennis took fourth-place in the girls’ race with a time of 21:35.7, which she said was a new personal best for her. Dennis led the Fort Madison girls’ squad to a fourth-place finish with 90 points. Mt. Pleasant’s Abby Ryon won the event with a time of 19:15.4.
FMHS senior Dayne Cordray was 12th overall in the Boys A Division at 18:09.2. Mt. Pleasant’s Cody Mertens won the event with a time of 16:15. Fort Madison finished fourth with 91 points. Muscatine won the meet with 23.
Fort Madison Activities Director Jeremy Swink said the district didn’t start even looking at the middle school property for the race until about Monday, but said now that it’s all put together, they may move the race to the school.
“We’d like to keep our meet consistent so when runners come back year after year they can compare their times. We don’t want to keep bouncing all over the place and being able to showcase our school and have it here on the property is pretty great.”
Dennis said she thought the course was one of the hardest she’s run.
“It was one of our harder ones,” she said. “Probably the fact that there was no shade and the incline and hills were longer than Rodeo made it more difficult. But that’s probably why I think I had a personal best because I was running harder.”
Ashlynn Haas, who finished 18th overall with a 23:59.4, said she prefers running at Rodeo.
“It was definitely different,” she said. We’re used to Rodeo, which is flatter, and they thew in some hills here, but Rodeo Park has some shade and I think I prefer to run there.”
Other top finishers for the Bloodhound girls included junior Anna Kester at 22.44.4, good for 11th overall. Maddy McVey took 21st with a time of 24.39.0, followed by junior Claire Hellman at 27:58.2.
The Bloodhounds’ sophomore Anthony Barnes finished in 19th place at 18:45.6. The other team finishers for the Hounds, which are the top seven from each school, included Hayden Wolf at 18:58.8 (23rd), freshman Austin Miller was 27th with a time of 19:24.3, Owen Kruse finished 29th at 19:45.5, Will Gager, another freshman, took 33rd place at 19:50.2, and Miguel Trejo wrapped up the Hounds’ team scoring with a time of 20:18.3 Other finishers for FMHS included Alex Steffensmeier at 21:15.5 and Matt Hopper at 25:52.3.
Freshman Philip Goldie of HTC had an 18:45.4. Junior Jacob Mohrfeld finished in 20:05.4 and freshman Mitchel Pothitakis crossed the line at 20:16.5. Senior Brant Holtkamp ran in 21:23.2. Chandler Rung’s 22:17.4 and Adam Rauenbuehler’s 22:31.5 rounded out the scoring for the Crusaders. Other finishers for Holy Trinity Catholic included Michael Hellman 22:58, Wyatt Hellman 24:19, and Josh Barr with a time of 26:26. Holy Trinity had 88 points for the event, Danville-New London won the B race with 52 points.
Swink said staff was concerned the course wouldn’t be challenging enough for the runners, but he relied upon former FMHS track coach Timm Lamb and FMHS Head Coach Brian Mendez to map out a unique course.
“It’s always a challenge when you have to set something like this,” Swink said, “But we just used the brains of Coach Lamb and Coach Mendez – two of the greatest cross country minds around and they were very helpful.”
In the girls junior high run, FMMS’ Emily Steffensmeier took 2nd place on the shorter course with a 14:16.3 behind Burlington’s Hadley Augustine. Ellie Schulte, Kay Quittem, Tauren Settles, Paetyn Wiegand, and Madison Huebner, all finished in the top 15 overall. Mary Hellige led the Holy Trinity girls junior high runners with a 34th place finish.
For the FMMS boys, Emmett Kruse took 5th with a 12:27.2. Tate Settles and Carson Rashid finished in the top 10. Jacob Pothitakis led the HTC boys with a 25th place finish.