If Freeburg sophomore Charlie Parrish had his choice, he would prefer being challenged each time he steps on to a cross country course.
But Saturday at the Freeburg Invitational, Parrish continued to challenge himself.
One of the premier runners in Southern Illinois, Parrish took the lead early and never looked back as he posted a narrow win over Jake Schwartz of Waterloo to lead the way for for the Midgets, who eased to the boys team title at Smithton Community Park.
Parrish finished the 3-mile race with a time of 16 minutes, 6 seconds, only two seconds off his personal best as he outkicked Schwartz to the finish line.
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“I’ve been running without a practice partner for a little while now and it makes it a little more difficult to motivate and push yourself sometimes,’’ Parrish said. “When that happens, I just to focus in on what’s ahead and what the goals are coming up. I just try to stay focused on getting to state and what it’s going to take reach my goal of being in the top 25.’’
Parrish wasn’t the only Midget who was focused on a overcast Saturday morning. Freeburg had five runners in the top 14 as it defeated Waterloo (64) and Mater Dei (90) for the championship.
Freeburg junior Alex Mack was third overall with a time of 16:18 while freshman Carson Smith was 10th. David Lunk was Waterloo’s No. 2 runner, finishing seventh. Rounding out the top five were 2014 champion Luke Goebel of Mater Dei and Kristian Avise-Rouse of Central.
Triad senior Abigail Richter saved the best for last as she overtook Waterloo freshman Jenna Schwartz in the last 50 meters to claim the girls title at Freeburg.
The reigning News-Democrat Class 2A runner of the year, Richter trailed Schwartz until the final stretch before she outsprinted Bulldogs standout to the chute.
“Not until the final 40-50 meters, until I sprinted to the finish,’’ Richter said. “She (Schwartz) is very strong. Only a freshman, she’s going to be tough to beat the next three years. She’s very talented.’’
Richter finished with a time of 18:22, while Schwartz was second in 18:23. Maddie Keller of Triad was third (18:59). Mater Dei freshman Elyse Faust (19:25) and Whitney Liefer of Waterloo (19:29) rounded out the top fice.
Team champion Freeburg swept the 6-8 spots as sophomore Kayla Whitworth (19:37) and juniors Kristen Collier (19:48) and Ashley Gilmore (19:49) also had good races for the Midgets
Freeburg finished with 48 points, followed by Mater Dei (60), Waterloo (73), Triad (82) and Okawville (139).