PEORIA — The O'Fallon Panthers put themselves on the Illinois high school cross country map with their second-place finish in the Class 3A state meet.
Patrick Perrier, Alex Riba and the rest of the Panthers reaffirmed that spot Saturday at Detweiller Park.
Perrier used a strong final kick to place third while Riba closed out his impressive high school career with a fourth-place finish to lead O'Fallon to a second straight runner-up finish in the Class 3A event."
Riba placed second as an individual a year ago.
"This is just incredible. Last year we got our first trophy ever, period. To have two in a row is great," O'Fallon coach Jon Burnett said. "These guys have worked their tails off to get themselves to this point, to get the program to this point.
"But it's not just this group of guys. I could give you a list of guys over the last 10-15 years who have gotten us to this point who share credit for this. I'm very proud of these guys who have helped us win consecutive trophies."
Sophomore Dorrian Gordon placed 42nd overall, while Steven Chorma (55th) and Evan Wesslund (65th) rounded out the top five runners for O'Fallon, which finished with 117 points, 35 more than champion (Elmhurst) York (82), which won its 28th state title. (LaGrange) Lyons was third with 125 points.
While O'Fallon reaffirmed its position as one of the state's elite programs on this chilly November afternoon, it also was a good day for the Mascoutah Indians in the Class 2A meet.
Sophomore Chris Martin fell in the opening 800 meters but rallied to place 14th and earn all-state honors while Indians teammate Murphy Affolder claimed a second straight all-state finish, placing 25th.
But the highlight of the day was the effort turned in by the O'Fallon harriers.
Battling for the lead with eventual champion Jack Keelan of (Chicago) St. Ignatius for much of the race, Riba finished with a time of 14:15 as he was edged out by a strong kick by Perrier for the third-place medal.
Perrier, the lone underclassman in the top seven, closed with a rush, also finishing in 14:15.
"My goal was to win the state title, but I came wanting to run a time where I would give myself a chance to win. To run a 14:13, you can't be disappointed with that," Perrier said. "To be able to win a trophy for the second year in a row is just a great accomplishment for all of us. I'm very happy."
Edwardsville, getting a 50th-place finish overall from Chad Maxwell, placed 24th, while Granite City senior Greg Rogers placed 124th in 15:33.
Martin and Affolder led the way for metro-east Class 2A athletes with their all-state finishes.
But while Affolder had a look of fatigue after the race, Martin looked like he had been in a rugby match. Still bleeding after falling in the first 800 meters, Martin didn't seem to mind a bit after crossing the finish line in 14:51.
"I got clipped and went down. There were probably eight or nine of who went down and I guess I was probably down on the ground for a good five seconds. Guys were going over me and I couldn't get up," Martin said. "At that point, you've just got to try and pass as many runners as you can. To place 14th after going down, I'm happy with that.''
While Martin was happy, Indians coach Pat Cook was stunned by what his sophomore accomplished.
"To fall and still run a 14:51. That's really incredible," Cook said. "To his (Martin's) credit. He didn't panic. He just got up and continued to run his race. He had to have passed more then 50 runners.''
Affolder placed 25th in 15:04, while Waterloo senior Josh Rodenberg was 98th in 15:49.
In the Class 1A race, Freeburg, getting a 38th-place finish from senior Jacob Marler (15:41), led the way for local teams placing 16th with 397.
Making their fourth straight state appearance both in the boys and girls Class 1A meet, the Midgets failed to earn any state medals, but coach Carl Florczyk was still pleased with the effort.
"I know Jacob (Marler) was hoping to be an all-stater today, but just getting here and running a good time of 15:41 is an accomplishment," Florczyk said. "I'm proud of both our boys and girls teams. They all did the best they could and that's all I can ask."
Sparta, getting a 37th place from Kenny Heaton, placed 19th with 423 points, while Metro-East Lutheran was 22nd with 494 points.