It was all he hoped it would be and more.
When Wheeling Jesuit's Luke Holubeck crossed the finish line to win the Carnegie Mellon Invitational at Pittsburgh's Schenley Park it was more than just his first collegiate victory, it was, well, something that defied description.
''It was really something you can't really replicate in any other situation,'' the St. John Central graduate said via cellphone from campus Thursday morning. ''It was a long, long trial of pushing yourself to the limit. There's no other feeling like it.''
The victory was a long time coming for Holubeck, a senior for the Cardinals.
''I was really excited,'' he said.
As was his coach, former Wheeling Park and WJU standout Ricky Moore.
''He's been a great coach ... very similar to Coach (Jeremy) Midei at St. John,'' Holubeck said. ''He has some of the best workout plans I've experienced. He knows what he's doing and I've learned a lot from him.''
Holubeck broke the tape with a time of 25:40 to lead the Cardinals to fifth-place in the 16-team event.
Holubeck has been one of the anchors of WJU's success during the past four years. The Cardinals won two of the final three West Virginia Conference crowns, with the only runner-up finish (2012) being to Seton Hill by one point (44-45).
Despite moving to the new Mountain East Conference this fall, WJU has retained its elite status and should be the favorite at next week's conference meet in Athens, W.Va. hosted by Concord University.
''I think we really have a good chance to win,'' said Holubeck, the MEC Runner of the Week a few weeks back. ''I feel like we could place our top 4 runners in the top 4.''
After that? Who knows?
The NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Championships are November 9 and Holubeck is hopeful for a good showing there, too.
''It's pretty tough to make it out (and to nationals),'' he said. ''You have to have a really good day. But I feel like I have a chance to make it.''
Preps set for districts
Holubeck's alma mater will be one of the area squads making the trek to Cambridge on Saturday morning for the Ohio district championships, the first step on the road to the state meet in Hebron.
Girls' Division III action begins at 11 a.m. Teams competing in this group include: Barnesville, Bellaire, Rosecrans, Caldwell, East Richland Christian, Fort Frye, Garaway, Malvern, Newcomerstown, Ridgewood, River, Shadyside, St. John, Strasburg and Tusky Central.
Caldwell, Fort and Garaway are all state-ranked and should place highly in the team standings, but Bellaire could figure in the results. St. John's Fallon Doyle is a favorite for the individual title.
Girls' Division II is split into two races. District 1 steps off at 11:45 a.m., with District 2 starting at 12:30 p.m.
District 1 teams are Carrollton, West Holmes, Morgan, West Muskingum, Sandy Valley, Minerva. Martins Ferry, Cambridge, Philo, East Liverpool and Harrison Central.
The Purple Riders' Jamie Truchan will get her chance to make some noise in this race.
The District 2 event features Dover, Claymont, Indian Valley, John Glenn, River View, St. Clairsville, Tusky Valley, Union Local, Maysville, Meadowbrook and Indian Creek.
Division III boys race at 1:30 p.m., followed by Division II boys' districts 1 and 2 at 2:15 and 3 p.m., respectively.
The top four teams in each race and those individuals not on a qualifying team who finish in the top 16 advance to next Saturday's regional meet at Pickerington North High School.
guide WJU swimmers
St. John graduate Megan Ebbert helped the Wheeling Jesuit swim team finish second at the season-opening West Virginia State Games in Morgantown.
Ebbert finished third in the 200 breaststroke in 2:34.87 and fourth in the 100 breast in 1:12.64. She was also 10th in the 200 IM.
West Virginia claimed the event, which combined the men's and women's results. However, Wheeling Jesuit finished ahead of Marshall, W.Va. Wesleyan, Davis & Elkins, Fairmont State, Alderson-Broaddus and W.Va. Tech.
Thorp can be reached at email@example.com