Photo by Bill Roseberry
The Roxana Shells’ Kyrston Scifres runs during the Metro East Lutheran Invite early in the 2014 season. Scifres and the rest of the Roxana girls’ cross country team will run in the Class 1A Metro East Lutheran Sectional along with the EA-WR boys’ and girls’ squads on Saturday at SIUE.
All trails lead to three sectional sites Saturday for local boys and girls cross country runners.
Class 1A competition commences at 10 a.m. in the Metro East Lutheran Sectional on the rugged SIUE course. There’s Class 2A action at Decatur MacArthur and the Class 3A harriers are poised to go at Quincy.
The chase is on for the top teams and leading individuals to follow a path to the IHSA three-class finals Nov. 8 at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Here’s a glance at the area sectional races:
East Alton-Wood River qualified its boys’ and girls’ teams for the MELHS competition, and that made coach Russ Colona a happy camper.
“The boys’ team was supposed to be in a rebuilding mode after losing six of its top seven runners from last year’s state team,” he said. “But we finished third in the Freeburg Regional and we’re trying to go to state again.
“And we have a chance to do it. We need all five of our guys to run well.”
Sophomore Garrett Fulkerson finished fourth at Freeburg. He turned in a time of 17 minutes, 3 seconds. Teammates Matthew Shea, 12th in 18:01, and Brendan Springman, 16th in 18:20, also boosted the Oilers. Zac Lafferty, Dustin Hearring, Chase Wallendorff and Jacob Mustain added to the mix.
Haley Kerpan paces the EA-WR girls, who secured their first sectional team berth since 2002. The junior finished ninth in 21:04 at Freeburg. Sophomores Carissa Gilreath, Kayla Hamilton, Kaylee Dailey and Kyara Price complement her.
“The future looks bright for EA-WR cross country,” Colona said.
Roxana’s girls took third at Freeburg and are eyeing a strong sectional showing. Junior Kyrston Scifres led the Shells by placing eighth in 20:48. Seniors Marissa Thomas and Savanah Stogsdill, juniors Peyton Young and Emily Davis, plus sophomore Shalyn Edwards, back Scifres.
“Kyrston is our No. 1 runner, but as a team, we didn’t run that well in the regional,” Roxana coach Scott Edwards said. “We expected to get second place. We’re a bubble team in the sectional, so this is our Super Bowl. I don’t know where we will land. It could be anywhere from fourth to ninth.”
Edwards guided the Shells to state appearances in 2011-12. The one three years ago was the first in school history.
“Just getting to state is the biggest thing this season,” Edwards said. “It’s our goal.”
Marquette Catholic’s Natalie Halliday is competing as an individual, as is Roxana’s James Henseler. Halliday came in sixth at 20:37 in the girls regional. Henseler was 25th at 19:04.
Freeburg won the boys and girls team title in its regional and could be the team to beat at SIUE.
Alex Singleton, a junior from Civic Memorial, is seeking a solid outing in the Decatur MacArthur Sectional and another state slot. She finished 27th in the IHSA finals last year.
Singleton ran 18:58 in the Jacksonville Regional and took ninth in a quality group of runners, according to Eagles’ coach Clint Walters.
“Alex didn’t have her best race, but she advanced to the sectional and that’s the main thing,” he said of the Mississippi Valley Conference champion. “She’s doing all the right things and looking to advance at Decatur. We’re not looking for a particular place in the sectional. The goal is to get Alex to state again.”
CM guys Ryan Gunter, Frank Trost and Sam Hurst also are aiming for a Peoria date. Gunter is a senior, Trost a junior and Hurst a sophomore.
“All three of them had standout races in the regional,” Walters said. “They are excited about getting a chance to run on that sectional course.”
Alton is sending five individuals — three boys and two girls — to Quincy for large-school competition. All five advanced through the Belleville West Regional, where O’Fallon swept to the team titles. Edwardsville was runner-up to the Panthers in both boys and girls.
“The boys’ team is young and all of the runners will be back,” Redbirds’ coach Vernon Curvey said. “They missed getting out of the regional as a team by three points.”
AHS sophomores Arie Macias, 11th in 16:26; Evan Rathgeb, 13th in 16:21; and Sam Gentelin, 33rd in 17:39, qualified for the sectional. Edwardsville’s Wes Schoenthal won the regional run in 15:23.
On the girls’ side, the Redbirds’ Rebecca Adney placed 25th in 20:43 and Hanah Batchelor was 37th in 22:17 to claim sectional spots. Both are seniors. Angela Buch of O’Fallon won the regional race in 18:45.
“Rebecca had one of her finest races of the season in the regional,” Curvey said. “She and Hanah have been doing it all along for us this season.”