OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa cross country teams both took first at the Wildwood Park Run in Ottumwa Thursday in a race that had to be moved back an hour because of the humid weather conditions.
“The most encouraging thing, other then the win, is seeing how much our times improved considering the conditions,” boys’ coach Jeff Smith said.
Complete results of the meet were not available Thursday. Pekin hosted the event, and area teams Cardinal, Fairfield, Sigourney, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, Van Buren, Twin Cedars and North Mahaska were among the teams scheduled to run.
Ottumwa’s Cody McConnell took first as an individual and Charlie Altfillisch finished third for the Bulldogs. McConnell finished the race in 16:18 and Altifillisch completed the race in 16:50.
“I think we pace ourselves off each other,” Altfillisch said after the race about the running dynamic he has with McConnell.
“The goal was to get out in the front and hold it,” McConnell added.
It was a special victory for McConnell, who finished second at the race last fall.
“He finished second here last year, so he was pretty determined he was going to win it this year,” Smith said.
Altfillisch said he was satisfied with his performance given the hot weather.
“Towards the end it definitely starts to wear on you,” he said about the heat.
“Charlie just keeps on improving,” Smith added. “He really has become such a better runner than a year ago.”
The Bulldog girls first place finish was more dramatic than the boys. The girls ended up tied with Pekin, but they won the tiebreaker because their sixth highest finisher — Charlette Flanders — completed her race before the Panthers’ sixth highest finisher, Pekin coach Davis Eidahl said.
Caroline Owens paced the Bulldogs with a time of 16:41 and Daylin Latham followed her in sixth place with 16:45.
Owens said her team displayed quite a bit of togetherness during the race.
“We were really pushing each other and motivating each other during the race,” Owens said.
“We weren’t quite as clustered as the last meet, but everyone did a great job,” added Sydney Strunk, who finished ninth with a time of 17:13. “My personal goal was to finish in the top 10, so I’m happy with that,” Strunk said.
Pekin’s Gwynne Wright took first overall in the girls’ race.
“I just go out and try my best,” she said.
Wright was happy with her team’s performance.
“We were going out to do our best I think we did that today,” she said.
Other Ottumwa girl times included Katy Fish, who finished in 17:40 and Madison Zesiger, who completed the run in 17:54.
“The big difference tonight was our pack broke a little bit, but we still stayed in small groups,” coach Angela Berry said. “We’ve been practicing well and staying focused.”
On the boys’ side, Collin McConnell took 17th with 18:50 and Shane Riley finished 20th with 18:52.
The Ottuwma teams will be in action again Tuesday at the Grinnell Invitational.