The O’Fallon Township High School boys varsity cross country team took back the Southwestern Conference title from Edwardsville on Thursday, Oct. 11 in an exciting race that came down to the last half mile of the three-mile contest at Belleville West High School.
The Panthers edged out the Tigers by two points in the team score.
Senior Will VanAlstine led his teammates with a second place finish in a personal best time of 14:51. Following VanAlstine’s lead, the next six Panther runners all ran personal best times. Sophomore Nick Edwards (fifth), junior Will Ray (sixth), and senior Brendan Krell (seventh) crossed the finish line one after another in 15:15. Senior Jacob Ramirez placed eighth and ran 15:30. Junior Chris Wichlac came in at 16:00 for 13th place and Junior David Tady had a time of 16:25 and placed 18th.
Coach Jon Burnett and his Panthers have won nine out of the last 10 conference titles.
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The junior varsity team came out on top to capture the conference crown in another close team race.
The JV squad beat Edwardsville by one point. Senior Andrew Joyce broke the finish tape in 16:23 with an exciting come-from-behind finish to blaze past Edwardsville’s Colten O’Brien for the individual title. Junior Braden Gaab crossed the finish line in third with a time of 16:31 with junior Tristen Fornes placing sixth in 16:41. The next four Panther runners also ran personal bests and placed in the top 15: Senior Kolsen Mendolsohn (seventh), sophomore Nico Parker (10th), sophomore Jack Peterson (12th) and freshman Peyton Mueller (14th).
This is the 18th consecutive conference title for the JV team under Burnett.
The varsity Panthers and other area teams start their postseason at the regionals at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville course on Saturday, Oct. 20.