Patrylak and Nuttall bring Tiger to Mud Mountain

EDWARDSVILLE — Leading for most of the second half of the 26e Mud Mountain Race, Geordan Patrylak still had some work to do on the final straight.

Defending champion Jack Pifer made a final push and passed Patrylak as the two climbed the final hill.

“Jack caught me with 200 yards or less to go,” Patrylak said. “I didn’t want to let him win. It was like this brotherly love of who was going to win and who was going to be second.

It was Patrylak who took the win by passing Pifer in the final 100 meters to cross the finish line first in 16:32.7. Pifer took second in 16:34.3.

“It felt good to go after him,” Patrylak said.

A 2022 graduate from Edwardsville High School, this was Patrylak’s first win at Mud Mountain. He took seventh place last year in 17:51.29. Pifer, a 2020 EHS graduate, won the 2021 race in 16:32.77.

Saturday’s women’s champion was Edwardsville High senior Emily Nuttall in 20:18.5. She took 36e overall, one place ahead of Waterloo Bulldog Danielle Mudd, the second woman to finish in 20:24.6.

Saturday’s race attracted 242 runners aged 11 to 61.

The race acts as a major fundraiser for cross country and track and field programs at Edwardsville High School, Liberty Middle School, and Lincoln Middle School.

Racing for Elite 8 Young Studs, who finished second to Elite 8 Tiger Legends in the team race, Patrylak was one of four runners to break 17 minutes. Behind Patrylak and Pifer were Larry Huffman third in 16:46.6 and Franky Romano fourth in 16:57.3. Dane Shaw was fifth in 17:03.5 and Ryan Luitjohan was sixth in 17:03.6.

“It feels good,” Patrylak said. “Going there, Luitjohan and I weren’t too motivated to handle it because we know it’s difficult.”

Besides the difficulty of the course, which includes a handful of grueling hills, the weather can also play a role. Saturday morning’s temperature flirted with 90 degrees. It was quite warm, according to Patrylak.

“It’s a combination of heat and humidity,” Patrylak said of the conditions. “The sport itself is not easy at all. It was a combination of things today.

Patrylak last won a race at the SIUE course on September 18, 2021. He won the Edwardsville Invitational Championship in 16:58.9.

On Saturday, Patrylak was competing as an alum.

“I told my mother that I felt like an old person even though I had just graduated,” Patrylak said. “It was cool to see all the young athletes here, though.”

Patrylak was part of an Edwardsville 2022 senior class that included Ryan Watts, Luitjohan, Jacob Grandone, Wyatt Erber, Liam Hoeferlin and Jack Draper.

Along with his son, as well as many runners he watched grow up, as a first-time alum, Edwardsville Boys’ Cross Country Coach and Mud Mountain Race Director George Patrylak has chose to be a spectator rather than a runner this year.

“I would like to say it feels good, but the whole time he was laughing and telling me not to slow down because I was going to get passed,” Geo Patrylak said of his father. “I think he was encouraging the guys behind me to play with my head. It was daddy love, I guess.

Anyway, it worked.

For Nuttall, she was making her second appearance at Mud Mountain. Last year, she finished sixth in the women’s race in 21:37.72. Nuttall improved his time by 90 seconds on Saturday.

” It feels good. I wasn’t really sure what I expected. I wanted to race well and be around the same time as last year,” Nuttall said. “We were also racing as a team this year which made it a lot easier than racing individually last year. I really like that. It was really good to finish where I did.

Melissa Spencer in 20:32.4, Alexis Edgar in 20:36.8 and Hannah Meiser in 21:30.2 rounded out the top five behind Nuttall and Mudd in the women’s. Meiser, who will be a senior at Civic Memorial, was the Telegraph’s 2021 Big School Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Nuttall transferred from Olney to Edwardsville during the winter of her sophomore year. After competing in track and field that spring, she made her EHS cross country debut in the fall of her freshman year. Mud Mountain in 2021 was his introduction to the Edwardsville home course.

“It was a lot easier this year to know what I was getting into,” Nuttall said. “I was trying not to let it mentally get the better of me. Knowing what the course was like, I was just going to try and run it as best I could and get up the hills.

“It occurred to me once to get on all fours and go up the hills, because there are some really good hills there. I just mentally blocked it out and ran them.

Nuttall, with the Tigers, will return to the Mud Mountain course this fall for the women’s cross country season.

Saturday’s race was a precursor.

“It was a fun race and one that will help prepare me for the cross country season,” Nuttall said. “I loved being able to run with everyone. I don’t compare myself to any of the runners out there. I’m just trying to manage my pace.

Age group winners included Alli Merrick in 31:03 (women 11 and under); Sophie Shapiro in 23:32.3 (daughter 12-13); Madison Popelar in 22:30.4 (Woman 14-15); Nuttall at 20:18.5 (Woman 16-18); Spencer at 20:32.4 (woman 19-24); Becca Starrett at 28:57.6 (woman 25-29); Maggie Dust in 22:16.3 (Woman 30-34); Casey Jones in 32:28.8 (Woman 35-39); Kit Donald in 28:31.8 (Woman 40-44); Andrea Cope in 35:08.5 (Woman 45-49); Anna Knoyle in 27:19.8 (woman 50-54); Rebecca Bradley in 25:03.3 (Woman 55-59); Ezekiel Askins in 24:19.7 (male 11 and under); Colin Luitjohan in 20:56.1 (male 12-13); Jackson Amick in 18:11 (male 14-15); Patrylak at 16:32.7 (male 16-18); Pifer at 16:34.3 (masculine 19-24); Luke Padesky in 17:28.1 (male 25-29); Marshall Phares in 17:14.7 (male 30-34); Huffman at 16:46.6 (man 35-39); Jason Jaxson in 20:11.6 (male 40-44); Jeremy Stumpf at 23:11.1 (male 45-49); Brian Quarton in 22:43.8 (male 50-54); Ryan Yoch in 22:59.7 (man 55-59); and Mark Bradley in 27:17.2 (male 60+).

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