BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Holy Trinity’s Matt Hellige keeps building his resume for a return trip to the state Cross Country meet in Fort Dodge this fall.
Hellige took second in the Class B run with a time of 16:49.5, and had the fastest time of Iowa schools at the Timm Lamb Cross Country Invitational Thursday night at the Fort Madison Middle School.
The race was moved to the middle school in 2018 after heavy rains caused the race, normally held at Rodeo Park just north of town, to be moved out to the junior high property.
The Crusaders finished 6th overall as a team. Hellige’s time was third fastest among both classes. He said he liked running at the school and said it reminded him a little of Kennedy Park in Fort Dodge where the state meet is held.
“I kind of like this one for spectators. You can pretty much see all of the course at one time. But it’s similar to Fort Dodge so it’s good practice for state.”
Hellige’s 16:49.5 was a personal best for him.
“That’s really great to break 17 minutes. That’s a goal of mine so I’m happy to get that in the middle of the season. This is where I want to be, but I want to keep improving,” Hellige said.
Fort Madison High School captured third place in the Class A, large school, run. Fort Madison had four of the top 20 runners with Anthony Barnes leading the way with a 12th place finish at 18:17.4.
Barnes had one of the strongest sprints to the finish of any of the runners, but said staying closer to the front during the run might hurt his late run speed.
“I normally hold enough at the end to get by some of the runners,” Barnes said.
“I think I did pretty good. I did sprint past some people at the end. I try to stay with them at the beginning, but I slipped at the start today. If I can stay with that group, I do, but if not I grab the next group because you really don’t want to run by yourself.”
Will Gager was right behind in 14th place with a time of 18:20.2, and the final three scoring runners were at 17th, 19th, and 21st with Hayden Wolf, Austin Miller, and Tate Settles rounding out the scoring finishes for Fort Madison.
For the Crusaders, Jacob Mohrfeld took 30th in Class B with a time of 20:39.2 and then Mitchell and Jacob Pothitakis ran together finishing 43rd and 44th overall with times of 21:31.1 and 21:33.7, respectively. Chandler Rung rounded out the scoring for the Crusaders with a 47th place 21:45.5.
In the girls run, Anna Kester took 8th place overall with a time of 22:21.5. Abby Ryon won the meet in 18:51.5.
Kester said she runs faster times at the middle school and had her best time ever.
“I don’t know….I took a nap before I ran,” she laughed.
“I run faster times here. I think it’s the hills. I just want to run up the hills very fast.”
Maddy McVey said she knocked two minutes off her time last year at the middle school with her 22:28.2.
“I’ve been battling an iron deficiency, but I think I’m past that now and I had a good run,” McVey said.
She said being able to see most of the course running, helps motivate her to stay and ahead and try to catch up to front runners.
“Anna was a head of me, but we both had our best time of the year today.”
Fort Madison got a 19th overall finish from Mylah Blanchard. Marquel Warner and Lauren Otte wrapped up the Fort Madison scoring with a 26th and a 28th place finish.
The race was changed to the Timm Lamb Invitational about a dozen years ago.
“The kids hate the course. They think it’s too tough and I’m fine with that,” Lamb said. “From a runner’s perspective, Rodeo would be fun to run because of the kind of course it is. But you get people yelling and encouraging you out here.”
He said at rodeo, the invite involved more runs because of the smaller take off areas and the groups had to be broken up. But he said spectators can see the race better at the middle school because it isn’t a trail run in the trees.
In the junior high runs, Fort Madison’s Carson Rashid ran the two-mile race in 11:43.3, which was best on the day. John Cantrill, Aiden Mitchel, and Leif Boeding all had top 10 finishes for the Little Hounds.
In the girls junior high run, FMMS took 1st overall behind the finish of Paetyn Wiegand who took sixth overall with a time of 13:53.8. Delaney Seay took 11th with a time of 14:12.9 followed by Hailey Kemper with a time of 15:25.5.