GRANITE CITY — Will O'Keefe is glad to have his younger brother, Andrew, as a teammate this year.
"He's got so much talent," the Granite City junior Will O'Keefe said. "His mileage isn't even super high yet, but when he starts putting in a lot of miles later on in high school, he's going to be really strong."
Both O'Keefe brothers earned medals at the 42nd annual Granite City Invitational on Saturday at Wilson Park. Will finished second with a time of 15 minutes, 36.20 seconds and Andrew, who is a freshman, placed 11th with a 16:09 in the 3.1-mile course. The top 30 runners at the Granite City meet earn medals.
The O'Keefes helped the Warriors place ninth at the Granite City Invitational for the second year in a row. Granite City finished with 266 points.
"The boys have been working hard this summer," Will said. "A couple of them have run more miles than me this summer. I think we're going to peak in the right way. We're keeping our mileage up and when we get some really strong speed workouts, we're going to do really great."
Granite City had two other runners finishing in the top 100 in the boys' race. Junior Leo Nikonowicz placed 33rd with a 17:01 and junior Kariem Ali finished 84th with an 18:01.
"I think on the guys' side, we're looking really strong despite being banged up a little bit," Granite City coach Richie Skirball said. "Early on, it's very promising."
A year ago, Will O'Keefe finished eighth with a 15:56 in the Granite City meet. On Saturday, he finished second to Jerseyville's Ben Flowers. Flowers, who is a junior, placed first with a 15:32.
"We came to the two-mile mark and a quarter of a mile after that with three-quarters of a mile to go, he started pulling away and I couldn't get my legs to respond right," Will said.
Andrew was coming off an outstanding eighth-grade track season at Coolidge Middle School this spring, finishing second in the 800 and third in the 1,600 in the Illinois Elementary School Association state track meet at East Peoria.
On Saturday, Andrew was the only freshman to earn a medal at the Granite City meet.
"I really like the way he has been coming along," Will said. "He's way faster than I was in my freshman year. I think he's going to do really great this season."
Also in the boys' race, the Alton Redbirds placed 13th with 408 points. Junior Evan Rathgeb was the Redbirds' top finisher, placing 48th with a 17:13. Junior Arie Macias finished 52nd with a 17:16, junior James Steinman placed 97th with an 18:19 and senior Jett Durr finished 103rd with an 18:29 in his first cross country race.
Durr already has high hopes for his team.
"I think we can qualify for state this year if not next year," the Alton senior said. "We're just going to keep getting better."
The Civic Memorial Eagles placed 22nd with 563 points. Senior Frank Trost and junior Cohl Callies finished 96th and 98th, respectively.
East Alton-Wood River junior Brendon Springman finished 72nd with a 17:39.
In the girls' race, East Alton-Wood River senior Haley Kerpan came up two places short of a medal, finishing 32nd with a 20:26.34. Last year, she finished 40th in the junior varsity girls' race.
"I have mixed feelings," Kerpan said. "I've got a 45-second PR (personal record) today, so it's kind of hard to be upset. I was about five seconds from a medal, but I still did almost a minute faster. It's going to be a good senior year."
The Warriors finished 21st with 541 points. Senior Kori Nesbit placed 42nd with a 20:45 to lead Granite City. She was the only Granite City runner who finished in the top 100.
"I was really excited to get the season going and to see how I do," Nesbit said. "I was hoping I would do a little better today place wise and time wise, but I came out and did what I could."
Civic Memorial senior Alex Singleton, who finished 10th in last year's race, was 57th with a 21:08 on Saturday. Junior Abbi Day and senior Savanna Durr finished 141st and 146th, respectively, for Alton.
The Glenwood Titans won the boys' and girls' team titles. Villa Duchesne senior Hannah Deines won the girls' individual title with an 18:36.