Panther Cross Country comes out big at county meet

BY SAM SCINTA
WEEKLY REPORTER
After the meet, the boys’ team got to pose with Olympic Gold Medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson. The East St. Louis native won gold in the 100 meter hurdles in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (Submitted Photo)

After the meet, the boys’ team got to pose with Olympic Gold Medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson. The East St. Louis native won gold in the 100 meter hurdles in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (Submitted Photo)

The OTHS Boys Cross Country team continued to add to its already illustrious history as a program, winning the St. Clair County Meet at Frank Holten Park in East St. Louis last Tuesday.

The Panthers withstood a ferocious Mascoutah team, finishing with seven runners in the top 18 for a team score of 35, just 4 points better than the Indians.

Belleville East finished ahead of Belleville West for third, with Freeburg, East St. Louis, and Cahokia rounding out the meet in that order.

Senior Zion Ward would run a 16:16:91, good for fourth place in the meet and tops for O’Fallon. Junior Hayden Ybarra would finish in fifth, running a 16:28:19, while fellow junior Garrett Blenkush came in seventh with a time of 16:34:48.

Sophomore Ashton Hess would come in ninth, while senior Jonathon Whitaker rounded out the Panther presence in the top ten. Junior Ryan Mank finished in 13th while senior Aaron Reuter came in 18th.

Mascoutah senior Ethan Price won the meet with a time of 15:45:39, while sophomore teammate Casmir Cozzi finished in second and junior teammate Brandon Johnson came in third.

The Indian sweep of the top three would not be enough for Mascoutah to claim the team title, however, as the Panther depth would once again pay dividends for the Blue and Gold.

O’Fallon also had a strong showing on the girls’ side, as the Panthers again finished among the area’s elite runners.

OTHS would finish in second place, seven points behind first place Mascoutah. Belleville East placed third, while East St. Louis, Freeburg, and Cahokia rounded out the top six.

O’Fallon junior Maddie Collins would be the top Panther finisher, placing fifth overall with a time of 20:02:24. Junior Kaileigh Porter and seniors Annie Roberts and Janelle Vollmer came in seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively.

Belleville East star junior Seleiya Wilson would win the meet, running a 19:07:40. She would be followed by Mascoutah seniors Mackenzie Dixon and Melanie Cozzi to round out the top three.