As if the O’Fallon Cross Country program needed any early season validation for their perennial elite status, the Panthers ran away with the Granite City Invite Championship, properly establishing their place as the premier harrier squad in the region.
The Panthers finished the Invite with a team average time of 15:57.27, nearly five seconds faster on average than 2nd place (Springfield) Chatham-Glenwood. Saint Louis University High, Edwardsville, and Freeburg rounded out the top 5, while Belleville West (11th), Granite City (12th), Belleville East (14th), Alton (17th), Collinsville (25th), and East St. Louis (27th) represented the rest of the Southwestern Conference.
Senior Christopher Conrad led all Panther runners with a 7th place finish, conquering the 3 mile course in 15:40. Sophomore Kyle Dismukes snuck into the top 10 just 5 seconds later. O’Fallon would have one more top 20 finisher, sophomore Will Van Alstine, who ran the 15,840 feet in 15:51. Senior Ben Flowers of Jerseyville finished with the top overall time of 15 minutes.
The Panther Girls also had a strong showing up north, taking 2nd place in the Invite behind only Southwestern Conference Rival Edwardsville. Freeburg, Waterloo, and Chatham-Glenwood rounded out the top five.
Belleville East (14th), Collinsville (19th), East St. Louis (20th), Granite City (24th), and Alton (26th) all represented the Southwestern Conference in placing in the event. Waterloo sophomore Jenna Schwartz won the event with an 18:10.
Junior Brooke Witzel was the top runner for the Blue and Gold, finishing with a time of 19:15, good for 11th on the day. Kaileigh Perrier came in at 16th with a 19:23, while freshman Sophie Wichlac rounded out the Panthers in the top 20 with an 18th place finish, running a 19:29.
While the Varsity teams competed in Granite City, the freshman and sophomores took place in the O’Fallon Futures Invite. The meet once again featured much of the rising young talent of the area, once again proving that the Metro East is the next hotbed for Illinois Cross Country.