Murray wins, Panthers improve at Williamsburg
WILLIAMSBURG — Both Mt. Pleasant cross-country teams started the season with an improved performance at their opening meet, the Williamsburg Invitational.
The girls’ team finished third for the third year in a row, but had the lowest score its ever had.
The boys’ team, despite losing its top five runners from last season to graduation, took fourth overall after finishing sixth last year.
They got a lot of help from freshman Logan Murray, who won the varsity boys’ race in a time of 17:03, about 20 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
“He was ahead of some state qualifiers from last year,” Mt. Pleasant Boys’ Coach Mitch Anderson said.
Murray continues his undefeated streak in his first-ever varsity race — the Panther won every race he ran last year as an eighth-grader.
All seven of Mt. Pleasant’s varsity runners finished in less than 20 minutes at Williamsburg.
Following Murray was Jack Pieper in 14th place with a time of 18:24; Josh Beelman in 17th, 18:37; Henry Pham in 27th, 19:25; and Ryan Hutchinson in 28th, 19:27, to round out the scoring.
Also running varsity for Mt. Pleasant was Dalton Krum (30th, 19:31) and Adam Bodenham (34th, 19:36).
“I thought we had some really strong performances for this early in the season, due to the hard work these boys put in over the summer,” Anderson said. “To have the individual champion ... was great, but I was equally impressed with the efforts of the team. We had five freshman in our seven varsity positions tonight, so we are young but should grow a bunch throughout the season.”
Vinton won the boys’ side of the meet with 58 points, narrowly beating out Mid-Prairie with 59 points. Williamsburg was third with a score of 73, followed by Mt. Pleasant, 87.
The Panthers came in ahead of Clear Creek-Amana (112), Benton (145), Belle Plaine (215), Sigourney (242), Springville-Central City (266), BGM (269) and HLV (278).
“To lose our top five from last year and finish better at this meet this year is a great start to the season,” Anderson said.
On the girls’ side of the meet, the host team was the winner.
Williamsburg finished with 36 points, followed by Vinton-Shellsburg with 55 points and Mt. Pleasant with a score of 70.
Mt. Pleasant finished ahead of six teams: Benton (111), Mid-Prairie (119), Springville-Central City (170), Clear Creek-Amana (171), HLV (245) and BGM (249).
Ellie Conrad was the first Panther across the line, finishing fifth in the field of 63 runners with a time of 16:56.
Beth Wells took 10th with a time of 17:16, and Chloe Haffarnan was 12th at 17:32.
“Ellie Conrad ran smoothly the whole race; Chloe Haffarnan ran her best time in four years; and Beth Wells ran under seven minute miles, which is good for her,” Mt. Pleasant Girls’ Coach Jean Caboth said. “Summer running by our top three varsity runners really shows in the results. Some girls are still getting in shape, but they are focused on the end of the season. It was a warm meet, too.”
Wells was followed by Natalie Ita in 19th, 18:07; Emma Ludwig in 24th, 18:23; Lindsey Moeller in 34th, 19:30, and Catherine Prough in 49th, 21:31.
“We ran well with some young runners on varsity and without Hannah Weber, who should be back next week,” Caboth said. “She (Weber) is healing up a knee strain, but is running well in practice.”
Both teams will run again on Saturday in Pella.
“Beth (Wells, a transfer student) will get to run against her old teammates from Cedar Falls,” Caboth said. “She is excited about that.”
The Panthers will also run against teams from Pella and Pella Christian, BGM, Collins-Maxwell-Baxter, Glenwood, Knoxville, Lynnville-Sully, Marshalltown, Montezuma, Nevada, Newton, Oskaloosa, PCM, Southeast Polk and Waukee.
The meet begins at 11 a.m. at Central College.