Located less than a mile apart, Metro-East Lutheran and Edwardsville high schools will join forces Saturday to co-host a cross country extravaganza never before seen in Southern Illinois.
A trip to the IHSA State Cross Country Championships in Peoria will be on the line for over 100 high school teams from around the state when the Class 1A Metro-East Lutheran Sectional and Class 3A Edwardsville Sectional take place at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
The area's first dual sectional is something both Metro-East Lutheran coach Dave Redden and Edwardsville coach George Patrylak have requested for several years and with the help of their booster clubs, the administrations of both schools and SIU-Edwardsville, the event will become a reality Saturday.
"Our booster and parent organizations work well together and we have always genuinely supported each other. We want to put on a classy, signature meet and with the years of experience of both schools putting on larger meets, we feel confident we can host without any major problems,'' Redden said. "Parking could be an issue for busses at the 3A meet, but we feel we have viable options.
"The Decatur area has a dual sectional as well, with MacArthur and St. Teresa, so we may possibly be seeing a trend starting.''
The Class A girls meet kicks off the competition at 10 a.m., followed by the boys race at 10:45. The Class 3A races are set for noon (girls) and 12:45 p.m. (boys).
The top five teams and top seven individuals not on those teams in all four races advance to the state cross country meet, Nov. 9 at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Following are individual capsules on the three sectional meets on Saturday involving local teams and individuals.
Class 3A Girls
Time and site: Noon at Southern Illinois University Edwardsvile.
Local teams: O'Fallon, Edwardsville, Belleville West, Belleville East, Granite City and Alton.
Top local individuals: Allie Sweatt, Edwardsville; Samantha Lapp, O'Fallon; Sydney Neal, O'Fallon; Olivia Horton, Belleville West; Tami Cardenas, O'Fallon and Haley Inyart, Belleville East.
Synopsis: Ranked among the top 10 teams in the state all year, O'Fallon should have no trouble advancing with Edwardsville also having a shot at a trip to Peoria. Sweatt should qualify even if the Tigers don't, while West junior Olivia Horton is aiming to earn a third straight trip to state.
O'Fallon coach Neil James: "Minooka is running very well as is Edwardsville and Lincoln-Way Central. We are going to have to run our best to win, which is what you expect at this time of the year. This will probably be the most competitive that our sectional has been for the past few years.''
CLASS 3A BOYS
Time and site: 12:45 p.m. at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Local teams: Edwardsville, O'Fallon, Belleville West, Belleville East and Granite City.
Top local individuals: Brydon Groves-Scott, Edwardsville; Ethan Townzen, Edwardsville; Patrick Perrier, O'Fallon; Fredrick Schoenthal, Edwardsville; Dorrian Gordon, O'Fallon; Will O'Keefe, Granite City; Steven Chorma, O'Fallon and Evan Wesslund, O'Fallon.
Synopsis: State runner-up the last two years, O'Fallon should have its full lineup after both Perrier and Chorma were rested last week at the regional by coach Jon Burnett. The Panthers are clearly the favorite, but Edwardsville, led by Groves-Scott and Townzen, should also earn a state berth.
O'Fallon coach Jon Burnett: "It's the strongest field of teams since 2005, when the sectional was also held at SIUE. Edwardsville looked very strong at Quincy last week. Patrick Perrier and Steven Chorma will both be back in our lineup. They and the others will have to run well to beat Edwardsville on its home course.''
Class 1A Girls
Time and site: 10 a.m. at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Local teams: Red Bud, Sparta, Freeburg, Metro-East Lutheran, Althoff; Roxana, Dupo and Central.
Top local individuals: Deanna Deterding, Red Bud; Keri Burmester, Red Bud; Emily Marler, Freeburg, Kristen Collier, Freeburg; Savannah Ames, Althoff; Grace Rowan, Althoff and Karly Schley, Metro-East Lutheran.
Synopsis: Ranked among the state's top 15 teams and the dominant Class A team in Southern Illinois, Freeburg has a top freshman in Collier, but must lower its pack time to advance to Peoria. Ames and Deterding are the top local individuals while Rowan also has a shot at moving on with a good performance.
Class 1A Boys
Time and site: 10:45 a.m. at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Local teams: Nashville, Sparta, Red Bud, Freeburg, Wood River, Columbia; Lebanon, Central, Metro-East Lutheran and Althoff.
Top local individuals: Jackson Pierce, Nashville; Kenny Heaton, Sparta; Ethan DeClos, Red Bud; Jace DuMont, Metro-East Lutheran; Brandon Richter, Central; William Mclemore, Wood River; Jonathan Kraus, Freeburg; Dylan Mueth, Freeburg and Riley Keleher, Freeburg.
Synopsis: Freeburg, led by the trio of Kraus, Mueth and Keleher, should contend for the team title. Heaton, one of the favorites to win the state title next week, is clearly the runner-to-beat in the individual competition.
Class 2A Girls
Time and site: Noon at Decatur MacArthur Sectional at Hickory Point Golf Course.
Local teams: Highland, Mater Dei, East St. Louis and Waterloo.
Top local individuals: Allison Zobrist, Highland; Emily Holtzclaw, Highland; Abigail Richter, Triad; Sophia Lager, Mater Dei; Sarah Faust, Mater Dei; Jada Marshall, East St. Louis and Hope Elliott, Waterloo.
Synopsis: Zobrist is a threat to finish in the top 10 next week at Detweiller Park and Highland also has a very good No. 2 runner in senior Emily Holtzclaw. Lager (Mater Dei) and Marshall (East St. Louis) are quality freshmen harriers.
Class 2A Boys
Time and site: 1 p.m. at Decatur MacArthur Sectional at Hickory Point Golf Course.
Local teams: Waterloo, Mascoutah and Triad.
Top local individuals: Noah Affolder, Mascoutah; Murphy Affolder, Mascoutah; Lance Mueller, Waterloo; Cole Rodenberg, Waterloo; Ben Richter, Triad and Collin Hayes, Triad.
Synopsis: Led by Mueller and Rodenberg, the Bulldogs have an excellent chance of advancing, but must run well in a sectional annually dominated by teams from Central Illinois. The Affolder brothers are both potential top 10 finishers at the state meet, but can't afford to look ahead. Richter is another potential all-state runner next week.