Granite City freshman Andrew O’Keefe made his first varsity race at Southern Illinois University one to remember on Wednesday at the (Edwardsville) Tigers Fall Classic.
Ignoring sloppy conditions on one of the more challenging 5K courses in the metro-east, O’Keefe didn’t flinch as he fought off a stiff challenge from O’Fallon junior Joey Black to win the individual championship.
Younger brother of two-time News-Democrat Class 3A first team all-area selection Will O’Keefe, Andrew O’Keefe’s winning time was 16 minutes 55.03 seconds, two seconds better than Black, who finished with a time of 16:57.73.
Garrett Blanchard of Mount Vernon was a distant third, finishing with a time of 17:32, while Luke Goebel of Mater Dei and Roland Prenzler of Edwardsville rounded out the top five individuals.
Host Edwardsville won the team championship with 54 points, eight less then Mount Vernon (62). O’Fallon placed third with 84 points, while Mater Dei placed fourth with 112.
Frankie Romano (eighth) and Sam McCormick (12th) also had solid performances for Edwardsville.
In the girls race, it was Triad senior Abigail Richter who took home the top finish. Four days after a top five finish at the Granite City Invitational on Saturday, Richter, the Belleville News-Democrat Class 2A Runner of the Year in 2014, finished with a time of 20:15.04, just ahead of Shelby Kallum of Marion, who finished in 20:15.15.
Honor Dimick of Edwardsville placed third, followed by Kate Bushue of Mount Vernon and Maddie Keller of Triad.
Melissa Spencer and Victoria Vegher of Edwardsville placed sixth and seventh respectively as the Tigers romped to the team championship with only 36 points. Triad (104 points), Mount Vernon (105), Mater Dei (108) and O’Fallon (112) rounded out the top five teams.