For 99.9 percent of the high school cross country runners in the state of Illinois to have the season Freeburg High School junior Charlie Parrish enjoyed would be a dream come true.
The dominant Class 1A runner in southern Illinois, Parrish won regional and sectional titles, placed 13th in the Illinois High School Association Class 1A state finals and helped lead the Midgets to a school record second place finish in the team competition.
Still, the season didn’t end as the state championship contender would have liked.
“It was a good year. I just didn’t accomplish some of things I wanted,’’ Parrish said. “I had the freak injury the week of regional and I couldn’t really run or train the way I needed to get ready. I was able to cross train but it’s not the same thing.”
Nevertheless, Parrish has remained one of the top thinclads in the metro-east, in any class. Winner of the Cahokia Conference championship, Parrish’s best time of the season over three miles — 15 minutes 3 seconds — helped him earn the honor as the Belleville News-Democrat Co-Runner of the Year.
The honor is the second in as many years for Parrish who shares the recognition with Mascoutah High School senior Ethan Price.
Freeburg coach Carl Florczyk said Parrish informed him that he had injured his foot on a steel bar in the week before the regional. Despite missing many hours of training and running, Parrish won the regional then captured the title at the Metro East Lutheran Sectional.
But something wasn’t right.
“Charlie came and told me of the injury and we had the (Freeburg High School) trainer look at it right away. We were just hoping everything would work out,’’ Florczyk said. “You have to have good luck on your side at that time of year and unfortunately for Charlie and us, we had just the opposite.’’
While the end of Parrish’s season wasn’t as good as hoped, Parrish enjoyed a near flawless regular season.
After placing in the top 30 at the 2015 state finals and barely missing all-state recognition, Parrish put in more than 700 training miles. Because of that hard work, Parrish and teammate Alex Mack, who placed 16th at the state finals, became the first Freeburg runner since 1980 to earn all-state recognition in boys cross country.
“Charlie just had a great, great season for us. He had some goals in mind when the summer started, and everything he did as far as his training, conditioning and diet was geared toward reaching those goals. The young man did everything the right way and I can’t tell you how proud I am of him for that,” Florczyk said. “I know he’s disappointed that he wasn’t able to run at his best, but he gave a tremendous effort.’’
Parrish doesn’t plan on running any road races this winter, but instead will get ready for the 2017 track and field season. The Midgets junior has some very high goals in mind.
“The goal in the 1,600 (meters) is 4 minutes 15 seconds and in the 3,200, it’s 9:10. But they are goals and they can change as the season goes on,’’ Parrish said. “As far as college goes, I’m keeping my options open. I went and visited Bradley (University) a week ago. I’ve seen the facilities and I know what I have to do in order to run at the NCAA Division I level.’’
Belleville News-Democrat Boys All-Area Cross Country Team
Runners of the Year
- Ethan Price, Mascoutah, sr. and Charlie Parrish, Freeburg, jr.
Coach of the Year
- Carl Florczyk, Freeburg
Class 1A Boys
- Charlie Parrish, Freeburg, jr.
- Alex Mack, Freeburg, sr.
- Brandon Schnitker, Nashville, jr.
- Luke Goebel, Mater Dei, jr.
- Corbin Schwable, Freeburg, soph.
- Caleb Zgonina, Nashville, jr.
- Javon Watkins, Metro East Lutheran, jr.
- Drew Wilkerson, Freeburg, sr.
- Kevin Medlin, Mater Dei, jr.
- Carson Smith, Freeburg, soph.
- Craig Collier, Freeburg, sr.
Class 2A First Team
- Ben Flowers, Jerseyville, sr.
- Jake Schwartz, Waterloo, sr.
- Ethan Price, Mascouah, sr
- Jacob Plocher, Highland, sr.
- Brandon Johnson, Mascoutah, jr.
- Casmir Cozzi, Mascoutah, soph.
- Adam Robson, Waterloo, jr.
- Bryuan Manuel, East St. Louis, jr.
- Sam Hurst, Civic Memorial, sr.
- Jackson McCalister, Waterloo, fresh.
- Cohl Callies, Civic Memorial, jr.
Class 3A First Team
- Chris Conrad, O’Fallon, sr.
- Andrew O’Keefe, Granite City, soph.
- Frankie Romano, Edwardsville, jr.
- Joey Black, O’Fallon, sr.
- Roland Prenzler, Edwardsville, soph.
- Dan Powell, Edwardsville, soph.
- Jack Pifer, Edwardsville, fresh.
- Will O’Keefe, Granite City, sr.
- Brian Gichuru. Belleville West, sr.
- Will VanAlstine, O’Fallon, soph.
- Matthew Gilster, O’Fallon, jr.
- Evan Rathgeb, Alton, sr.
One Combined Team
Garrett Blenkush, O’Fallon; Lucas Capristrant, O’Fallon; Christopher Crossen, Mascoutah; Kelvin Cummings, Alton Anthony Detmer: Central, Drew Detmer: Wesclin; Blake Hatter, Freeburg, Max Hartmann, Edwardsville; James Henseler: Roxana; Zach Jung, Triad; Arie Macias Alton, Jaxen McNeese: Lebanon; Zach Panek, Belleville East; Deric Patton-Triad, Gabriel Sherrill-Highland; Keegan Spirek: Mater Dei; Brenden Springman, Wood River; Otto Stark, Mater Dei; Cree Stumpf: Roxana; Patrick Thompson-Mascoutah; Zach Walter, Edwardsville; Eli Ward, Waterloo; Zion Ward, O’Fallon; Jaron Willis, Triad; Hayden Ybarra, O’Fallon;
One Combined Team
Will Brant, (O’Fallon) First Baptist Academy; Christian Cazier, Jerseyville; Chris Crossen, Mascoutah; Matt Dawson-Waterloo; Drew Detmer, Wesclin; Chris Ferguson-Scott, Mascoutah; Joshua Foster, Columbia; Dakota Gregory: Marissa; Noah Hayes, Waterloo; Garrett Headen: Red Bud; Jackson Howell, Belleville East; Brandon Isom, Roxana; Zach Knopf-Triad; David Lunk-Waterloo; Seth Martin, Triad; Kortez Matthews, East St. Louis; Sam McCormick, Edwardsville; Matthew McNicol, Mascoutah; Brylee Portell, Highland; Quinten Tichenal, Belleville East; Jake Roustio, Wood River; Jacob Schoenthal, Edwardsville; Dakota Stumpf: Roxana; Ben Walter-Triad, Johnathon Whitaker, O’Fallon Braeden Williams-Mascoutah Luke Worley, Freeburg