Senior Brenden Springman has competed with the East Alton-Wood River cross country team since his freshman year.
When Brenden Springman joined the East Alton-Wood River cross country team his freshman year, he followed in two of his older brothers’ footsteps.
Jason and Justin Springman also competed with the Oilers’ cross country program. Jason and Justin graduated in 2009 and 2012, respectively.
“My brothers both ran and they told me, ‘Hey, you’re doing cross country.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ So my coach got me out here and I got into it and I’ve been running it ever since,” said Brenden, the youngest of the three Springman boys.
It turned out to be a good decision for Springman.
Springman, a senior, has been one of the Oilers’ top performers throughout his high school cross country career. He helped EA-WR qualify for sectionals in his sophomore and junior seasons. Last year, he won the Madison County small-school division championship.
On Saturday, he was the Oilers’ top finisher at the Granite City Invitational, placing 57th with a time of 16 minutes, 42 seconds, which was 8 seconds shy of his personal-best time set at the Jacksonville Invitational last year.
“He ran a 16:42 and he’s off to a really good start,” EA-WR coach Russ Colona said. “He barely missed qualifying (for state) last year as an individual and he has led this team. He’s getting them going. He gets the miles in and he’s a great kid. I’m looking for him to do some good stuff at the end of the year.”
Springman competed in the varsity race at the Granite City Invitational for the second straight year. Last year, he placed 72nd with a 17:39.
“Last year, I really didn’t run my best,” Springman said. “It was really hot. This year, I ran pretty good. I like the course. It’s like a pancake because it’s flat with no hills.”
The 18-year-old Springman is leading an EA-WR team that has senior Jake Roustio, juniors Chase Wallendorff, Jacob Mustain and Blake Unterbrink and sophomore Andrew Noack.
“Last year, we had a young team,” Springman said. “We have a couple of freshmen and some sophomores. They’re all back and they’re getting stronger.”
Springman said he found out cross country wasn’t an easy sport when he tried out as a freshman.
“At first, I didn’t really like it because I wasn’t in good shape,” the EA-WR senior said. “I didn’t do any work over the summer in my freshman year. By the end of the season, I liked it because I was a lot better and I can actually run three miles.”
In his sophomore year, Springman helped the Oilers finish fourth in the Class 1A Freeburg Regional and clinch a sectional berth.
As a junior, Springman captured his first small-school county championship after placing first with a 17:51 at the county championship meet in SIUE. He won the race by 17 seconds.
Two weeks later, Springman helped the Oilers finish third in the Class 1A New Athens Regional and clinch a berth in the Metro East Lutheran Sectional meet at SIUE. He placed seventh with a 17:19 to lead EA-WR in regionals.
Springman finished 38th with an 18:20 at sectionals. He was 12 places shy from qualifying for the state meet in Peoria.
“Toward the end of the season around regionals, I got sick,” Springman said. “I never got better until the end of sectionals.”
This year, Springman is looking to become the second EA-WR runner in three years to make a trip to Peoria in November.
“I want to end my senior year strong and hopefully make it up to the state meet,” said Springman, who also competes in track in the spring. “That’s one of the goals I plan on doing.”
Follow #AdVsports on Twitter