BELLEVILLE — The Mascoutah Indians put a little sibling rivalry to good use Saturday at the Belleville West Cross Country Invitational.
Senior Murphy Affolder won a down-to-the-wire duel with younger brother Noah Affolder as the Indians took the team title of the ninth annual event at West High School.
Running shoulder-to-shoulder for much the race's final mile, Murphy Affolder's final kick was just enough as he posted a time of 15 minutes, 36 seconds, one second faster than his freshman brother.
"Oh they're competitive. Noah already has run a faster time than Murphy did as a freshman,'' Indians coach Pat Cook said. "Actually today was the opposite as last week at Granite City (Invitational). Last week, Noah kind of stayed on Murphy's shoulder and beat him to the tape. Today, Murphy did the same to Noah. They're very good for each other.''
Ethan Price added an 11th-place finish for Mascoutah, which finished with 57 points, 21 fewer than the host Maroons.
Belleville East (85 points), Granite City (86) and Collinsville (109) rounded out the top five teams in the boys division.
An all-state athlete in both track and field and cross country in past years, Murphy Affolder said he is competitive with his brother.
"We're brothers. Of course we're competitive,'' Affolder said. "We've grown up together. I push him and he pushes me when we run. It's good for us both. My goal is to win the (Mississippi Valley) conference title. I haven't won it since I was a sophomore. We'll take the rest of the season as it comes.''
Second-place West also had three harriers place in the top 12. Senior Evan Alcorn (seventh) led the Maroons while Chris Jackson was eighth and Hunter Cason placed 12th.
Granite City's Will O'Keefe placed a distant third individually, finishing with a time of 16:19. Collinsville's Alex Reed was fourth in 16:25.
West girls take title
Depth was the key as host West placed three runners in the top five and posted a 15-point win over Cahokia Conference power Columbia.
A two-time Class 3A state qualifier, junior Olivia Horton led the way for the Maroons, placing third in the 3-mile event with a time of 19:27, while teammates Brittany Luster (19:57) and Emily Fulton (19:58) placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
Alex Singleton, of Civic Memorial, took the individual title with a time of 18:52 . Lauren Kaempfe, of Columbia, was second in 19:11.
But for the eighth time in nine years, it was the host Maroons who were left holding the big trophy.
"It means a lot for us to come out here and run well in our own meet," West coach Patton Segraves said. "Before the race, we talked about being a tough team and today we were.
"I was very pleased with all of the girls. Olivia (Horton) ran great today as did Brittany (Luster) and Emily Fulton. Our team depth was the difference.''
West finished with 49 points, while Columbia had 64 points. Collinsville (74), East (114) and Mascoutah (117) rounded out the top five teams.
Haley Inyart led East, placing sixth overall in 19:58.