A fraction of a second was all that separated O’Fallon Township’s Lucas Capistrant from a sectional championship and the all-time cross country course record at Wislon Park in Granite City on Saturday.
Capistrant finished the race in second place, just four-hundredths of a second behind the winner, Granite City’s Andrew O’Keefe. Officially, O’Keefe’s time was 14:56.34, and Capistrant’s was 14:56.38. The old course record was 14:58 by Garrett Sweatt of Edwardsville.
“Lucas ran a phenomenal race. By far, it was his best performance of the season. No one in Southern Illinois had pushed Andrew O’Keefe this season,” said OTHS coach Jon Burnett. “Hopefully, both Lucas and Andrew will run well again next Saturday and will earn All-State.”
Yorkville won the sectional with a low score of 84. Lockport Township was second (95), Edwardsville was third (111), O’Fallon was fourth (112), and Lincoln-Way Central in New New Lenox (131) earned fifth place and the final qualifying spot for the IHSA 3A State Championship meet in Peoria’s Detweiller Park this Saturday.
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The rest of the 12-team field, in the order they finished, included Minooka (139), Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort (163), Normal Community (176), Joliet Central (231), Lincoln-Way West High School in New Lenox (290), Moline High School (300) and Granite City (374).
Also for OTHS, Will VanAlstine, a junior, was 14th with a time of 15:26; Hayden Ybarra, a senior, was 20th (15:35); Garrett Blenkush, a senior, was 34th (15:55); Nick Edwards, a freshman, was 42nd (16:00); Matthew Gilster, a senior, was 46th (16:04); and Jacob Ramirez, a junior, was 56th (16:13).
“Our race was the best we had run all season,” Burnett said. “Due to injuries, this was only the second time this season that we had our entire top seven together in a race. This week, we were healthy and focused.”
The O’Fallon girls, who also ran at Granite City on Saturday, fell just shy of qualifying as a team, but had three individuals post good enough times for a trip to Peoria.
“We were so close to qualifying, as we missed it by four points,” said OTHS coach Neil James.
The top five teams out of the 12-team sectional advanced. OTHS finished sixth with 130 points. Lincoln-Way Central from New Lenox was the final qualifier with 126 points.
“Our girls ran a great race, especially the top three. This year’s team was faster than the past two years teams that qualified for state,” James said.
Yorkville High School won the team event with 26 points, followed by Minooka (73), Edwardsville (89), Lockport Township (117) and Lincoln-Way Central.
Teams finishing below OTHS were 7 Lincoln-Way East High School from Frankfort (221), Pekin (254), Lincoln-Way West from New Lenox (272), Joliet West (281), Moline (304) and Quincy (333).
Brooke Witzel, a senior, was the top runner for the Panthers. She finished in 12th place with a time of 17:56. Also for OTHS, Kaitlyn Walker finished 18th (18:12) and Sophie Wichlac was 23rd (18:19); both are sophomores. All three will held to Peoria.
“Brooke Witzel ran her season best time of 17:56 and qualified for her fourth straight state meet. Kaitlyn Walker has been so solid all year and ran a season best time of 18:12. Sophie Wichlac ran her best race ever, as she had a personal best of more than 20 seconds to run 18:18,” James said. “I expect good things from those three at the state meet. All ran at state last year and will look to improve on their individual finish.”