One of the top high school distance runners in the nation, Effingham St. Anthony junior Anna Sophia Keller wasted little time in getting her cross country season off to a blazing and winning start Saturday at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
A two-time Class A state cross country champion, Keller got off to a quick start and never looked back as she breezed to the win at the Metro East Lutheran First to the Finish 5K Kickoff Meet.
Keller’s time of 18 minutes, 3 seconds was a minute 24 seconds better than Kara Martin of Herrin, who finished in 19:27. Katherine Petty of Rochester was third in 19:32 as she led her team to the team title. Rochester had three runners place in the top 13 as it finished with a team score of 58 points, 21 fewer than Class A state power Decatur St. Teresa.
Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Notre Dame was third with 97 points. It was followed by Freeburg with 137 and Herrin with 148. Freeburg, which won a Class A sectional title last November on the same SIU-Edwardsville course, was led by Ashley Gilmore who placed 12th with a time of 20:55.
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Two-time all-state runner Keri Burmester of Red Bud had the top finish of any runner from the metro-east placing sixth with a time of 20:25.
In the boys race, Class 2A power Salem had four runners place in the top 11 as it nipped Notre Dame for the championship.
The Wilcats were led by a fifth place finish from junior Caden Owens as they finished with a score of 97 points. Notre Dame was second followed by Freeburg with a score of 114 points.
Freeburg sophomore Charlie Parrish led the way for the Midgets with a fourth-place finish in a time of 17:03. Carterville senior Harrison Thomas won the 5K race with a time of 16:17, 35 seconds faster than Josh Cable of Rochester.
Other local runners placing in the top 20 were Alex Mack of Freeburg (12th), Brandon Schnitker of Nashville (15th), Ethan Price of Mascoutah (16th), Kristian Avise-Rouse of Columbia (17th) and Luke Goebel of Mater Dei (20th).