As Freeburg High School sophomore Charlie Parrish came down the home stretch of the Class 1A State Cross Country Meet last month in Peoria he heard a voice from the crowd of nearly 10,000 long distance running enthusisiats at beautiful Detweiller Park.
Parrish couldn’t make out who it was but the message was loud and clear. Finish strong.
“I heard someone yell. You’re 25th,’’ Parrish said. “I knew I had to give it everything I had.”
After finishing the final incline and crossing the finish line on that super cool November morning, Parrish wasn’t suere if he had finished in the top 25 — the mark needed to be an all-state runner and to earn a state medal — but when he finally realized that he had missed by the narrowest of margins, he didn’t mope or feel sorry for himself.
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That’s not Parrish. After realizing he had placed 26th in the three0-mile race in a time of 15 minutes 33 seconds, Parrish was picking up his Freeburg teammates as they finished what would turn out to be one of the best performances in school history — placing eighth in the 25-team event.
“It meant a lot to us to be able to run well at state,” Parrish said. “We were disappointed at how we ran at sectionals and we felt like we had something to prove once we got to the state finals.
“We talked about going out and giving everything we had — 100 percent — at the state finals and so when I finished the race I wanted to be there for my teammates when they finished there races. We all did the best we could and to think that we placed eighth without everybody having their best races of the year gives us incentive to train even more next because we’ve got everybody back.’’
Half of one of the top one-two Class 1A duos in the state along with Alex Mack, Parrish was clearly the top runner in the rugged Cahokia Conference this season,. Among his top performances was a win in the Class 1A New Athens Regional. His time at the state finals was the sixth fastest by an underclassmen in the senior ladden state final race which saw 19 seniors place in the top 25.
Put simply, the next two years look awfully promising for Parrish and the running Midgets.
“I know he has already talked about maybe fininishing in the top 10 at state next year. If that’s his goal I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see him achieve it,” Freeburg coach Carl Florczyk said. “Charlie is just a very special young man who comes from a great family. He lives the lifestyle of a runner. He watches his diet, trains the right way and loves to compete.”
Like most distance runners, Parrish’s introduction to cross country is indeed unique. He actually started running out of the blue.
“My grandfather and I were going to his house one day and his driveway is like a half-mile long. One day I asked him to leave me off at the start of it and let me run to the house from there. That’s how I got my start. I just liked to run,’’ Parrish said. “I also used to get up with my mom when she would run in 5K races. I remember we would get up at 4:30 a.m. but that was actually before I really took distance running that seriously.’’
Parrish is still running as he preprares for the start of the indoor track and field season which begins in February. He recently competed in the frosh-soph division at the prestigious Foot Locker Midwest Regionals in Kenosha, Wis. Parrish, who competed in the Nike Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., last year, placed eighth out of a field of over 220 runners.
“It was a great experience. The weather was horrible with snow, cold and everything, but I was plesasd with howmething I was able to finish,’’ Parrish said. “I enjoy running against some of the best runners in the nation. I hope to run both the Nike and Foot Locker next year.”
Parrish will be running this year as part of the Midgets track and field team where he will compete in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. The long range goal is to run in college and Parrish said he would like to attend a college in the mountains. Parrish is a straight A student and ranked high in his class at Freeburg.
“Great kid, great student and just a great young runner. Charlie has the total package,” Florczyk said. “He’s also a great teammate. I found it so rewarding at the end of the state race the way he was with his teammates.
“I mean here’s a kid who comes up one place short of earning a medal and being all state. Most kids would be devastated and I’m sure he was upset. But instead of being off and consoling himself. He was there with his teammates, helping them up and making sure everybody was alright. That’s the type of kid he is. Charlie is just a great teammate.”
2015 Belleville News-Democrat All-Area Cross Country Team
Runner of the Year
Will O’Keefe, Granite City, jr.
Coach of the Year
Bryan Mitchell, Belleville East
Class 2A Runner of the Year
Ethan Price, Mascoutah, jr.
Class 2A Coach of the Year
Darren Latham, Sparta
Class 1A Runner of the Year
Charlie Parrish, Freeburg, soph.
Class 1A Coach of the Year
Carl Florczyk, Freeburg
Class 3A First Team
Joey Black, O’Fallon, jr
Andrew O'Keefe, Granite City, frosh
Kyle Dismukes, O’Fallon, frosh
Will VanAlstine, O’Fallon, frosh
Brian Gichuru, Belleville West; jr.
Alex Harrison, O’Fallon, sr.
Dan Powell, Edwardsville, frosh
Roland Prenzler, frosh.
Franky Romano, Edwardsville, soph.
Chris Conrad, O’Fallon, frosh
Arie Macias, Alton, jr.
Class 2A First Team
Ben Flowers, Jerseyville, sr.
Jake Schwartz, Waterloo, jr.
Daniel Pearson Mascoutah, sr.
Casmir Cozzi Mascoutah, frosh
Adam Lawson Triad, soph.
Jacob Plocher Highland, jr
Parker Zurbrugg Mascoutah, sr.
Cole Callies, Civic Memorial, saoph.
Adam Robson Waterloo, soph.
David Lunk Waterloo, soph.
Frank Trost, Civic Memorial, jr.
Class 1A First Team
Alex Mack, Freeburg, jr.
Jacob Schwankhaus, Okawville, sr.
Alex Becker, Red Bud, sr.
Kristian Avise-Rouse, Columbia, sr
Carson Smith, Freeburg, frosh
Corbin Schwable, Freeburg, frosh
Blake Hatter, Freeburg, frosh
Craig Collier-Freeburg, jr
Brandon Schnitker, Nashville, soph
Caleb Zgonina, Nashville, soph.
Luke Goebel, Mater Dei, soph.
(One Combined Team)
Ray Bailey, Nashville; Trevor Buckner, Sparta; Collin Brannon, Triad, Hunter Cason, Belleville West; Ethan Cockrell, Mater Dei; Chris Crossen, Mascoutah; Amani Franklin, Belleville East; Joe Gallo, Highland; Dakota Gregory, Marissa; Avery Grimm, Sparta; Max Hartmann, Edwardsville; Noah Hays, Waterloo; Garrett Headen, Red Bud; Zach Jung, Triad; Ryan Kell, Nashville; Joshua Kolb, O’Fallon; Joe Kraus, Belleville East; Sam Kreinburg, Waterloo; Jordan Lee, Sparta; Caleb Machuca, Highland; Sam McCormick, Edwardsville; Jaxon McNeese, Lebanon; Kevin Medlin, Mater Dei; Evan Morris, Lebanon; Leo Nikonowicz, Granite City; Deric Patton, Triad; Brendan Peterson, Collinsville; Jackson Pierce, Nashville; Dan Powell, Edwardsville; Roland Prenzler, Edwardsville; Joey Ramsey, Triad; Aaron Reuter, O’Fallon; Blake Rusteberg, Waterloo; Patrick Thompson, Mascoutah; Elgin Scherff, Gibault; Christopher Furgeson-Scott, Mascoutah; Brendan Springman, Wood River; Otto Stark, Mater Deil Zion Ward, O’Fallon; Javon Watkins, Metro East Lutheran; Jared Wiklein, Columbia; Luke Worley, Freeburg