First-ever MHS state title came from boys track team in 1998

The 1998 state champion Monticello boys track and field team, first row from left: D.J. Schenck, Mitch Cook, Matt Cook, Kory Helgens and Brian Henderson. Second row: head coach Greg Williams, Spencer Moats, Carter Kramer, Brian Cassidy and assistant coach Donnie Kremer. (Express file photo)
Ryan Schueller
Express Sports Editor, 1997-98

     (Sports Editor’s note: This article is reprinted from June 3, 1998 Monticello Express. Ryan Schueller was Express Sports Editor in 1997 and 1998.)

     DES MOINES – It was not Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith playing the lead roles for the Men in Black, it was Matt and Mitch Cook who led the Panthers to the first State team championship in Monticello High School history on May 29-30 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.

     “I can’t describe how I feel,” said Monticello coach Greg Williams. “The homecoming that we had is something that Donnie Kremer, the guys and myself will always remember. We appreciate all the people who showed up to celebrate our championship with us, it made us feel pretty special.”

     Williams pointed out that he knew his team had a chance to win when Matt Cook took first place in the 3,200-meter run.

     “If you want to call it an upset, I guess you could,” Williams said of Cook’s victory over Eldora East-New Providence runner Ryan Pence. “After Matt took the championship, I think the rest of the guys felt like they would win the team title.”

     Matt Cook was surrounded by the media after his victory, and he discussed the race.

     “You never win in the first part of the race,” Cook said. “You have to take it in the second part. Being a state champ means so much, and I just can’t say enough. I feel like I’m on top of the world. I was waiting for Pence to kick, but he didn’t. In the last two meters I felt like I could have died, but when it is your senior year you give it all you have and that is what I did.”

     Cook broke Calvin Himes’ school record of 9:45.1 in the 3,200 that was set in 1975, with his time of 9:43.91.

     The Panthers also broke school records in the 1,600-meter medley, 1,600 meter run and 800-meter run.

     “We went down to Des Moines and ran faster than we had all year in all our events,” Williams said. “Our goal was to win the State championship and break school records at State and we accomplished those goals. I’m so proud of all the guys and the way they performed.”

     Williams admitted that he was a little worried about the team points race, but noted that Mitch Cook stepped up and got the job done in the Panthers’ last event.

     “Mitch needed a good run for us in the 800 and he came through,” Williams added. “We knew it would take about 30 points to win, and we had 28 when it was Mitch’s time to run. He scored five points with his second place finish, so we knew we were in pretty good shape with just two events left to go.”


     Class 2A top five team scoring: 1, Monticello 33; 2, West Lyon Inwood 29; 3, Dyersville Beckman 28; 4, West Burlington Arnold 21; 5, Eldora East-New Providence 19.

     Monticello results:

     High jump – 8, Brian Cassidy, 6-0.

     3,200 – 1, Matt Cook, 9:43.91.

     1,600 medley – 2, Kory Helgens, Spencer Moats, Brian Cassidy, Mitch Cook, 3:34.07.

     4x800 – 2, D.J. Schenck, Brian Henderson, Matt Cook, Mitch Cook, 8:03.02.

     1,600 – 2, Matt Cook, 4:26.45; 20, Brian Henderson, 4:55.79.

     800 – 2, Mitch Cook, 1:58.61.

     4x400 – Brian Cassidy, Carter Kramer, D.J. Schenck, Spencer Moats, 3:34.83 (prelims).



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