Three of the top distance runners in the state during the cross country season, Freeburg senior Charlie Parrish and juniors Jenna Schwartz, of Waterloo, and Andrew O'Keefe, of Granite City, continued their winning ways Saturday at the Shirk Center in Bloomington.
The Class 2A state cross country champion, Schwartz won the Class 2A 3,200-meter championship and was third in the 1,600-meter as she helped lead a strong effort by metro-east area athletes at the Illinois Top Times Indoor Track and Field Championships.
A three-time Belleville News-Democrat Class 2A runner of the year, Schwartz bettered her seed time of 11 minutes, 16 seconds by 13 seconds as she cruised to a mark of 11 minutes, 3 seconds at the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University. Schwartz's time was 12 seconds better than second-place finisher, Campbell Peterson, of Dunlap.
Peterson, a freshman, edged Schwartz for the title in the 1,600-meter. Peterson won the event in 5 minutes, 11.34 seconds, while Schwartz was third in 5:12.67.
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While Schwartz won the Class 2A girls 3,200-meter title, Parrish won the boys title. An all-state runner in the event a year ago and a two-time all state runner in cross country, Parrish finished with a time of 9 minutes, 22.79 seconds to edge Mahomet-Seymour junior Mathias Powell for the title.
Parrish, who will attend Kansas State University later this summer, placed fourth in the 1,600-meter.
O'Keefe, whose versatility helps him compete in events from 800- to 3,200-meter, won the Class 3A 1,600-meter championship Saturday. The Warriors standout finished the event in 4 minutes, 19.26 seconds as he defeated Sam Rivera, of Chicago Whitney Young, (4:20.17) by less than a second.
Madison High School junior Janiya Collins won a pair of titles. Collins won the 60-meter dash in 7.9 seconds then captured the 200-meter championship in 26.30 seconds.
Mascoutah won the boys Class 2A 3,200-meter championship.
O'Fallon, Edwardsville win at SW Illinois Relays
The O'Fallon Panthers girls and Edwardsville Tigers boys teams got their outdoor track and field seasons off to good starts Friday with wins at the Southwestern Illinois Relays at Edwardsville High School.
O'Fallon, getting a victory from Amy Wagner in the shot put and individual second-place medals from Ally Foote and Kaitlyn Walker in the 1,600-meter, finished the eight-team girls event with 108 points, seven more than Belleville West.
Always one of the top programs in the Southwestern Conference, the Panthers graduated several key individuals, including several from the sprints and sprint relays from a year ago. But with one of his youngest teams in recent years, O'Fallon coach Neil James has gone back to the basics.
"We graduated several outstanding athletes from our team of a year ago, including several of which were part or relay teams, which won two state championships. But we've been very pleased at how some of these girls who maybe were overshadowed last season, have stepped up. They are making the most of their chance to compete and doing a great job,'' James said. "We have shown a lot of improvement already.''
In the boys competition, it was defending Class 3A state champion Edwardsville, which nipped state runner-up and Southwestern Conference rival East St. Louis, 99-95 for the championship.
The Tigers got winning efforts from Max Hartmann in the 1,600-meter, Cameron Kirkpatrick in the discus and Kenyon Johnson in the long jump.