FREEBURG — The Freeburg Midgets' depth and talent were too much for their rivals in the Cahokia Conference track meet Wednesday.
The host Midgets rolled to championships in the boys and girls competition on a windy afternoon that saw dozens of runners gasping for air as they struggled to reach the finish line.
"Our coaching staff's been blessed to work with such a great group of kids. They come to practice and they work hard and they've got a positive attitude," Freeburg coach J.R. Brentlinger said. "We're proud of them.
"We do have a lot of depth. It was fun to use all we had today because we needed every bit of it. The kids competed well; everybody did, from all the teams throughout the conference. We had good performances despite the windy day."
In the boys meet, the Midgets scored 170 points to outdistance second-place Wesclin (115) and third-place Columbia (114). Red Bud (58), Lebanon (49), Dupo (27) Central (23) and New Athens (1) rounded out the team standings.
Individually, Freeburg got first-place finishes from sophomore Jon Kraus in the 3,200-meter run (11:00.88) and junior Cole Schwaegel (52.20) in the 400-meter dash. The Midgets also won the 4x800 relay (8:50.26), the 4x200 relay (1:36.96) and the 4x400 relay (3:35.15).
In the girls meet, Freeburg amassed 195 points to outscore runner-up Red Bud (86), Central (83), Lebanon (70), Wesclin (67), Dupo (33), Columbia (13), New Athens (6) and Steeleville (2).
Freeburg finished first in the 4x800 relay (10:28.95), the 4x100 relay (52.34), the 4x200 relay (1:54.43) and the 4x400 relay (4:17.18), and got winning performances from senior Chelsea Hill in the pole vault (9-6), freshman Jenna Kennedy in the discus (98-6), senior Abby Lealaimatafao in the shot put (38-8.5) and junior Taryne Knuckles in the 800 run (2:34.68).
Twin victories in the conference meet, said Brentlinger, have been the Midgets' mission for several weeks.
"They've had this on their list as something they wanted to do," he said. "At the beginning of the year, it was a goal. It's fun to see them reach their goal. Specifically, we wanted our relay teams to come in with good competition and run solid times. Now we've got to try to put it together at the (Herrin) sectional to advance what we can advance to state. The relays are something we can look into."
Junior Mike Davinroy joined senior Ben Carrill and juniors Jared Duke and Mitch Speiser to help the Midgets win the 4x200 relay.
"It means a lot," Davinroy said of winning the team championship. "I know people consider track to be an individual sport, but it's really cool when a team can get together and have everyone go out and compete and do the best they can do. It's wonderful to win something as a team."
Senior Emma Farley agreed. The Midgets have won the conference crown all four years of her career.
"It's something that we looked forward to the whole season, so it really does mean a lot," said Farley, whose 13:33.21 in the 3,200 run placed second to Red Bud sophomore Keri Burmester (12:25.47). "It's really exciting for all of us and I'm so glad I could be a part of it.
"I was significantly slower than my PR today, but what we were worrying about was place. Even though the wind was bad, it was about trying to get as high a place as possible, and I think we all did that and performed the best we could."
Columbia had designs on competing with Freeburg for the boys championship, but the Eagles settled for third place, one point behind second-place Wesclin.
Wesclin got individual championships from sophomore Blake Laird in the pole vault (11-6), senior Nick Thoele in the triple jump (19-11.25), senior Ronnie Drummond in the 110 hurdles (16.04) and 300 hurdles (40.74) and junior Justin Goff in the 100 dash (11.86) and 200 dash (23.66). The Warriors also won the 4x100 relay (45.47).
First-place individuals for Columbia were sophomore Ethan Snow in the high jump (6-0) and long jump (21-1), senior Grant Snow in the shot put (45-2) and senior Sean McCarty in the 800 (2:03.97).
"The wind helped me a little bit in the discus," said Grant Snow, who placed second in the event to Red Bud junior Mitchell Hooten (151-5). "I threw a 135 (135-10.5), which was my second-best of the season. I almost got a PR on my last throw, but I scratched out of bounds. It was a nice throw."
Eagles coach Ernie Kopp wasn't disappointed.
"We performed very well," he said. "We have a lot of quality on our team. We just don't have the depth in numbers that Freeburg has, and in the end, it cost us. We really have to overwork some kids, and when you do that, by the third and fourth race for them, they aren't running the times they're capable of. It catches up with you."
In the girls competition, Red Bud senior Kalli Hentis won the 100 (13.96), the 200 (28.37) and the 400 (1:04.46). Wesclin junior Erin Johnson won the high jump (4-8) and the 100 hurdles (16.86). Lebanon freshman Casey Berberich won the long jump (16-9) and the 300 hurdles (48.65). Red Bud's Bermester, in addition to her championship in the 3,200, won the 1,600 (5:48).
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.