The Fairfield cross country teams traveled to Keokuk Thursday night and battled the cool, wet conditions as they ran in the Southeast Conference meet.
“We knew Mt. Pleasant was going to come out and compete,” said head coach Jerrod Belzer. “They finished 1-2 and had a whole pack of guys that were with us for the first 2-2.5 miles, but Alex [Forrest] stepped up and got fourth and it seems like we always have someone stepping forward. Mark [Diers] did as well.”
The Trojans finished in first place by 10 points over the Panthers and collected their first SEC title since 2008.
“The team has worked hard, especially the seniors and hats off to them and their effort last night and in the past to get here,” added Belzer.
1st Fairfield 41 points
2nd Mt. Pleasant 51 points
3rd Ft. Madison 57 points
4th Washington 74 points
5th Keokuk 155 points
1st Cody Mertens, Mt. Pleasant, 16:25
4th Alex Forrest 17:39
7th Mark Diers 18:12
8th Bryan Wilkins 18:18
9th Kaidyn Mickels 18:20
13th Dylan Harvey 18:43
15th Dalton Rippey 18:54
19th Aiden Daugherty 19:11
33rd Nacho Rodriguez, Keokuk, 25:16
The Trojan girls finished in third, just behind second place Washington.
“Our goal was second place, but it was nice to finish third,” admitted Belzer.
“The girls are just missing some of the parts that the boys have with lack of runners and experience. Half of the team had never run cross country before a few months ago, but they are progressing and getting there. The middle school also has a nice group of eighth grade boys and girls who will run compete to run varsity next year for us, too.”
Ashley Bloomquist was the top Trojan finisher, coming in second to No. 7 ranked Abby Ryon of Mt. Pleasant.
“Ryon is running really well and second place is nothing to be upset with,” said Belzer. “Ashley went out and ran the way that she wanted to run and had a great race and had a good time. It was fun to watch those two compete and it will be exciting to see them do it again next Thursday.”
1st Mt. Pleasant 22
2nd Washington 67
3rd Fairfield 73
4th Keokuk 131
1st Abby Ryon, Mt. Pleasant 19:25
2nd Ashley Bloomquist 19:43
11th Yana Gaskell 22:24
16th Hailey Pohren-Gevock 23:15
21st Destiny Gridley 24:21
23rd Delaney Breen 25:34
26th Grace Sobaski 26:20
29th Claire Epperson 29:53
Next Thursday at 4 pm, the Trojans will host the state qualifying meet and head coach Jerrod Belzer is “happy to be hosting the meet with great competition.”
He believes 3-4 girls will stay up front with Ashley and Abby and a few girls from Grinnell. Bloomquist will be attempting to qualify for her third-consecutive state cross country meet.
The boys need to finish third or better to qualify and Belzer said that “Clear Creek-Amana and Marion are in another league, but Grinnell is the team that we have to go out and beat for the third slot if we are going to make it.”