ALTON — Alex Singleton did Wednesday what she’s accustomed to doing at the Alton Cross Country Invitational.
She won it.
The Civic Memorial High senior prevailed in the 3.0-mile run for the second straight year at the Gordon Moore Park course. This time, she finished first in 20 minutes, 49.51 seconds. Cheyenne Finley of Centralia placed second in 21:30.72, or 41 seconds behind Singleton. Senior Natalie Halliday of Marquette Catholic took third in 21:42.54.
“I really wanted to try and win it again,” Singleton said. “It’s a confidence booster.”
She added, “The hills are a little tricky here, but I was leading the whole way. And that was part of my plan – to get out in front.”
Halliday, fourth at the AHS Invite in 2014, said running against Singleton helps strengthen her competitive edge. They will go at it again Monday during the George Havens Invitational at Principia College.
“I try to keep pace with her because she’s a good opponent,” Halliday said.
Collinsville scored 46 points to claim the girls’ team title. McCluer North finished second with 75 points and Granite City grabbed third with 81 points.
“We have good quality runners. It’s just that we don’t have a lot of quantity,” Warriors’ coach Richie Skirball said in reference to the numbers’ game.
Kori Nesbit paced Granite City by finishing seventh in 23:02.33. Teammate Alyssa Comer was 13th in 24:58.33.
Singleton has a busy week ahead. After competing Monday in the Havens Invite, she will run next Wednesday at the Triad Invitational and Saturday, Oct. 3, at Southwestern.
“It’s the time of the year when you have to turn it up,” Singleton said. “I’ve cut back on my mileage a little so that I can get more speed.”
Halliday, who has had to deal with a pair of right knee surgeries over the past three years, also is planning for a strong finish.
“I definitely want to go state. It’s my senior season, so I want to go out with a bang,” she said.
Ben Flowers of Jersey followed up his boys' victory Saturday in the Edwardsville Invitational by winning Alton Invite. His time was 16:32.12, or 19 seconds quicker than freshman Andrew O’Keefe of Granite City. Garrett Blanchard of Centralia snagged third in 16:53.58 and Arie Macias of Alton captured fourth in 17:05.15.
Macias, sixth in the Edwardsville Invite, helped the Redbirds take second to Jersey in the AHS boys’ team standings. The Panthers scored 43 points. The Redbirds accumulated 76 points, followed by Granite City, which had 85 points. CM was fourth with 107 points in the nine-team field.
“The first mile was what I wanted, then I sort of died out in the second and third one,” Macias said. “But I’m getting to where I really want to be and I need to keep working.”
Alton coach Vernon Curvey said, “Arie is a smart kid. He knows where he is at, where he needs to be and how to get there.”
Teammates Evan Rathgeb, 13th in 18:16.74; Alex Davis, 17th in 18:32.76; Jett Durr, 20th in 18:56.15 and Sam Gentelin, 22nd in 19:15.62, also figured in the Redbirds’ scoring.
“I think we have a solid group and just one senior (Jett Durr) in it,” Curvey said. “We have had some young guys step up for us.”
Frank Trost, eighth in 18:04.76 and Cohl Callies, ninth in 18:05.13; spurred CM. Teammate Weichia Li nabbed 23rd in 19:17.97.
Granite City’s Jake Roustio, 14th in 18:17.36; Kariem Ali, 15th in 18:17.69 and Josh Royce, 24th in 19:19.54, complemented O’Keefe’s running. His older brother, Will, didn’t run at Alton. Coach Skirball said Will O'Keefe be back in action Saturday at the Springfield Invitational.
“We held him (Will) out today to keep him fresh for Saturday,” Skirball noted.
Andrew O’Keefe savored his second-place finish to Flowers, one of the area’s top runners.
“It was a pretty hard course, but it was kind of a fun race,” O’Keefe said. “I’m happy with what I did.”