Mascoutah senior Ethan Price led a strong individual effort as the Indians swept the top three places but it was the depth of the O’Fallon Panthers which proved to be the difference in the boys division at the St. Clair County Cross Country Championships on Wednesday in East St. Louis.
Competing without several of its top runners, O’Fallon used its superior depth to overcome the individual talent of the Indians as it posted a four-point win at Frank Holten State Park.
Price covered the three-mile course in just over 15 minutes, 45 seconds as he edged teammates Casmir Cozzi and Brandon Johnson for the title. But O’Fallon, a perennial Class 3A state cross country power, took six of the next eight places to nip the Indians for the championship.
O’Fallon, which defeated Mascoutah 35-39, was led by senior Zion Ward, who placed fourth and Hayden Ybarra who placed fifth. Belleville East freshman Zach Panek was sixth, while O’Fallon’s Garrett Blenkush rounded out the top seven harriers.
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Belleville East (87 points), Belleville West (99) and Freeburg (124) rounded out the top five teams. Freeburg, like O”Fallon, did not run many of its top athletes on Wednesday.
The girls race
Mascoutah seniors MacKenzie Dixon and Melani Cozzi finished second and third respectively as the Indians captured the girls division with a seven point win over O’Fallon.
Reaffirming her position as one of the top Class 3A runners in southern Illinois, Belleville East junior Seleiya Wilson was the overall champion, finishing with a time of 19 minutes, 7 seconds over the three-mile course.
Governor French Academy senior Sarozjani Hunter was fourth, while O’Fallon’s Maddie Collins was fifth overall. O’Fallon coach Neil James rested his top seven runners on Wednesday.
Arianna Climaco of Mascoutah and Kaileigh Perrier of O’Fallon rounded out the top seven athletes. Mascoutah finished with 30 points, followed by O’Fallon (37), Belleville East (85) and East St. Louis (100.)