O'FALLON — The top Class 3A cross country runner in the state, O'Fallon senior Patrick Perrier is ready to take on the best in the nation -- again.
A state champion for a little over a month, Perrier will run his final high school cross country meet Saturday when he competes at the prestigious Foot Locker National Championship at Balboa Park in San Diego.
The trip to San Diego for the Foot Locker Championships is the second straight for Perrier, who placed 19th a year ago.
This time Perrier's goals are much higher.
"This is a race I've been looked forward to and wanted to win for a year now,'' Perrier said. "I'd say I'm in the hunt.
"But what is comes down to is I've run this race before. It's my last race as a high school athlete and anything in the top five I'll be happy with. I'm going to go out and make a bold move to win the race. If I finish 40th, I finish 40th. But I'm going to go out and try to win the race.''
A total of 40 of the boys in the nation will compete in the event, which will also include 40 of the top 40 high school girls. Runners qualified for the national finals at four Foot Locker Regional events Nov. 30.
Perrier placed sixth at the Midwest Regional in Kenosha, Wis. He placed fourth at the Midwest Regional a year ago.
"Actually the weather wasn't bad in Kenosha,'' Perrier said. "I was battling a little tendinitis in my ankle and so all I wanted to do was finish in the top 10 and advance. I knew I would have two weeks to get ready and get healthy for this race.''
A Stanford University recruit, Perrier will leave Thursday for San Deigo with his parents. Perrier will have the chance to hear several of the distance runners in the nation speak during banquets for the runners Thursday and Friday. Perrier and the other 79 runners will get the chance to walk the 5K course Friday.
"In a way, Balboa Park reminds me of the course at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. It's very hilly,'' Perrier said. "For the first time in probably five or six years, the race is wide open. There really isn't a favorite. There are 40 great runners, and anybody can win it.''
"It all depends on the race, but if I could run 15:10. I would be happy with that. I'll just go out with the lead pack and make adjustments as needed during the race