Mascoutah High School senior Ethan Price has set some very high goals for himself for the 2016 cross country season. Saturday morning, Price took another step toward achieving those goals.
The reigning Belleville News-Democrat Class 2A Cross Country Runner of the Year, Price took an early lead over Belleville West standout Brian Gichuru and never trailed as he took the boys title and led the Indians to the team championship at the Belleville West Invitational.
“Last time, Brian (Gichuru) went out hard and Ethan went with him. Today, Brian held back a little bit and Ethan went for it,” Mascoutah coach Darren Latham said. “Ethan looked very strong today and ran a good race.”
Price finished the soggy three mile West course in 16 minutes 24 seconds, 28 seconds faster than Gichuru, as he coasted to the win. Belleville East senior Jackson Howell placed third in 17 minutes 2 seconds, while Mascoutah sophomore Casmir Cozzi and East freshman Zachariah Panek rounded out the top five placewinners.
But the difference for Mascoutah, which finished 44 points and nipepd both Belleville West (62 points) and Belleville East (87) for the team title, was its depth., The Indians also got a tenth place finish from Brandon Johnson and an 11th from Christopher Ferguson-Scott.
Also claiming top 10 finishes was Lucas Robben of Belleville West who placed eighth.
While the Mascoutah boys were impressive in placing four athletes in the top 1, they had to take a backseat to the Indians girls squad, which came close to perfection on Saturday.
In the girls race
Belleville East junior Seleiya Wilson continued to shine in the early going as she won the girls division. But Mascoutah, running well as a pack, took six of the next seven places as it finished with a team score of 16 points, well in front of Collinsville (81 points) and host Belleville West.
Long one of the top Class 2A runners in southern Illinois, Mascoutah senior Mackenzie Dixon was the Indians top runner, placing second, while another senior Melanie Cozzi placed third.
Two freshmen — Arianna Climaco and Julia Kapp — both from Mascoutah placed fourth and fifth respectively.
“I was very pleased at how both boys and girls teams did today. But for our girls to finish with 16 points ... that’s exceptional,” Latham said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a team score only 16 points in a race before. They ran very well as a pack.
“This is the second straight year we’ve come in here and swept the boys and girls divisions at (Belleville) West. I hope we get invited back.”
Also hoping to get a chance to defend her crown in ‘17 is Wilson, who continues to show why she’s perhaps the most improved runner in the metro-east this season.
After earning top 10 finished at both Granite City and Edwardsville Invitationals in the past week, Wilson was never threatened as she finished the three mile course in 19 minutes 44 seconds, 44 seconds better then her nearest rival; Mackenzie Dixon.
“I just ran a lot over the Summer. I’m primarily an 800 and 1,600 meter runner in track and field, but I ran with a club this summer and that’s really helped me improve,” Wilson said. “I ran 19:06 the last time I was here (Belleville West), but I wasn’t really pushed today. I’m usually pushed by runners from Edwardsville or O’Fallon.”