FMHS’s Hellige takes 12th in the mile run
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – Keokuk’s Miracle Ailes and Fort Madison’s Matt Hellige wrapped up the final day of the 2019 Iowa State Track meet in a neat little package.
Ailes won two more medals to go with the two she won on Thursday and Friday, including the state title in the girls’ 3A high jump. Hellige, running in his first ever state mile run, finished 12th after getting caught in the pack at the end of the third lap.
Ailes finished third in the 100-meter dash with a 12.73 behind Davenport Assumption champion Carly King’s 12.42 and Dubuque Wahlert’s Libby Wedewer’s 12.6. About an hour later she wrapped up a sparkling sophomore state track meet with her fourth medal of the three-day meet in the 200, taking 5th place and walking gingerly off the track.
“I wasn’t feeling it,” she said of the start of the 200. “Coming around the curve I felt something pop in my foot and I started to slow down, and then at the end I just tried to keep going and I passed a girl and it was good. I got fifth and I was proud of myself.”
She said her success at this year’s meet will serve as a springboard for a 2020 junior season that she’s already looking forward to.
“I feel pretty good. Coming in I was just focusing on the high jump, but you know, I medaled in everything and I’m really proud of myself and I can’t wait to see what I’ll do next year,” she said.
In the 100-meter dash, Ailes said her start was key to the strong finish.
“I was really digging coming out of the blocks. I felt really good because usually my starts aren’t the best, but that was one of the best starts of the season.”
Hellige, running with the top Class 3A milers in the state, said the distance events can get a little physical.
He got off the start in the middle of a pack and quickly moved to the front five where he stayed until most of the way through the first three laps despite getting arm bumped on turn one of the second lap. Halfway through the third lap, the junior slipped back into the middle of the pack and then tried to make a move in front of the first turn of the final four but couldn’t find room with runners five and six abreast coming into the final lap.
His 4:37.06 was good enough for 12th place overall and Hellige was happy with the performance despite not medaling in the top 8.
“Right at the beginning there was a little pushing and shoving and that’s part of it sometimes in running. You have to expect that at state with the high stakes meet,” he said.
“This was a great, fun, and exciting weekend and I think I learned a lot. It’s so great to have a chance to come up here and run two races.”
He said the improvement came from working on different tactics and strategies.
“I really worked on race strategy and pacing and lots of hard workouts. There were those days when I was feeling tired and I just made myself get out there and do it. I had a mindset that I wanted to qualify in both these races so I just told myself get out there and do it.”