BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MT. PLEASANT – Holy Trinity Catholic junior runner Matt Hellige took first place in the small class 5K at Mt. Pleasant Tuesday evening.
Hellige’s 18:05.62 was the best time of the day for the smaller schools besting Zach Hein of Wilton by 6.4 seconds and Brody Barton of Winfield-Mt. Union by 7.8 seconds.
He said the rains in the earlier afternoon Tuesday made for a wet course.
“Obviously, the course was really muddy. Especially in one area it was like a big mud puddle and after the race, I was covered in mud up to my knees, so that affected me a little bit,” he said.
Hellige said this is the fifth meet of the year and he’s been running 17 and 18 minute times so the soggy conditions didn’t hurt too bad.
Hellige ran in the state cross country tournament last year and said with qualifying starting in about a month, his times are competitive.
“My coaches and teammates have been pushing me really hard this season. Practices have been going really well and I have had some good workouts, but it’s been going pretty fast.”
Hellige’s time led Holy Trinity Catholic’s team to a second-place finish with 79 points, 31 behind Danville’s 48. Phillip Goldie took 6th place for the Crusaders with a time of 19:05.64. Jacob Mohrfeld was 16th overall and third for HTC with a time of 20:00.56.
“The team ran well at Mt Pleasant. We had a wet and muddy course which could have made for slow running, but our athletes endured nicely,” said HTC coach Matt Mohrfeld.
“Matthew Hellige looked great with his first-place finish and Goldie is maturing into a front of the pack runner with a 6th-place finish. Mohrfeld and Pothitakis delivered a very solid mid-pack run with 16th and 26th place finishes. Holtkamp, Rung, and Hellman rounded out our night with strong runs. A good night for HTC and I was very proud of their performance.”
Fort Madison, which ran in the large school class, also garnered a team 2nd-place finish behind the 3rd-place finish by senior Dayne Cordray. Cordray’s 17:53.68 was just six seconds behind Evan Horak of Washington. Cody Mertens of Mt. Pleasant won the race with a 16:35.28.
Hounds’ sophomore Anthony Barnes finished in 10th place with a time of 19:06.21. Freshman Hayden Wolfe at 19:12.96 and sophomore Owen Kruse at 19:19.43 finished in 12th and 13th place, respectively. Freshman Will Gager rounded out the top 15 with a 19:24.12 run.
The Bloodhounds finished with 53 points behind Fairfield’s 39, but five points ahead of Mt. Pleasant.
Other top HTC runners included Mitchel Pothitakis 21:10.31 (26th), Brant Holtkamp 21:26.46 (31st), Chandler Rung 21:26.93 (32nd), and Wyatt Hellman 23:05.96 (51st).
For the Bloodhounds, freshman Austin Miller finished at 20:02.37 (19th) and senior Miguel Trejo at 20:18.75 (24th).
The Bloodhounds travel to Anamosa for another invitational on Saturday morning. Holy Trinity runs at Pekin on Saturday.