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CHS Cross Country Finish Strong

By Mark Jurgena

The Kahok cross country trio of Theo Paxton, Trey Peterson and Axel Muniz continued to push each other and their teammates toward the top of the standings during two meets last week.

The annual East Alton-Wood River Invitational switched their format from two races to eight different races last Saturday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That only proved to be a small obstacle for Collinsville’s Paxton as he not only won the senior race he posted the fastest time of the day by five seconds over Althoff junior Jack Hiller.

“Theo was in a position where he had a couple of good guys in the race,” coach Darryl Frerker said. “Three guys went out faster than he did so he was trying to relax as much as he could. He ended up running more of a consistent pace throughout the race than not and that worked out well for him.”

He covered the flat, four km course in 12:25.

“The finish was around the track, Frerker stated. “When he came by coach Russ Colona (of EAWR) he mentioned, ‘you could get the fastest time of the day!’ Theo did step it up and he had a pretty decent kick that last 100 to 150 meters. Kudos to him!”

His teammate Muniz placed second in the senior class heat. That time placed him fifth overall for the day.

On the opposite end of the age spectrum for the Kahoks, Peterson won the freshman class race with a time of 12:57. That time was fourth overall.

“He was able to execute what I asked him to do and that was to be able to run soft for the first mile and a half,” Frerker said. “Then he just dropped the hammer and looked good doing it. It was only 4,000 (meters) so we were a little short of the two and a half miles but I’m sure he was under five minute (mile) pace.”

Junior Brock Cunningham was third in his race finishing at 13:10. That put him in 6th place overall.

Kevin Varela ran a 13:11 to finish just behind Cunningham to tie for 7th place with Red Bud junior Nick Fehr.

Freshman Andrew Gonski tied for 2nd place in the freshman race with Cayton Cratch of Steeleville. Both ran a 13:38. Overall they finished tied for 12th place.

Last Tuesday Collinsville was at Gordon Moore Park in Alton for the annual Madison County meet.

The Kahoks entered the meet on the heels of two big meets from the latter part of the previous week. CHS had strong showings at the Triad Invitational and the SWC conference meet and were facing another important test in Alton

“I was very happy with the results because I felt like those last three meets were very successful,” Frerker began. “It was tough. It’s a growing experience to race three big races in eight days. I know the legs were tired.”

Peterson led the way for CHS with a time of 16:59.37. That was good for 6th place. He finished two seconds back of 5th place finisher Easton Rosen of Highland.

Paxton was the next Kahok to finish. He showed up in 9th place with a 17:36.79 and edged Triad’s Caleb Bagwell by just over half a second.

Muniz placed 15th with a time of 17:54.64.

Gonski ran a 19:04.08 to show up in 26th place while Varela finished in 31st place with a 19:21.52.

Cunningham and Evan Heintz rounded out the card for CHS. Cunningham ran the course in 19:54.33 and Heintz came in at 20:00.65.

Edwardsville won the team title scoring 17 points. The Kahoks finished in third with 87 points behind Triad’s 72 points.

Ryan Watts of Edwardsville took the individual title on the three mile course with a time of 15:54.04.

In the JV meet, Collinsville’s David Garcia placed 11th with a time of 19:34.78.

On the girls side of the EAWR meet, Maggie Fitzgerald continued to lead the way for Collinsville. She placed fourth in the senior girls race and seventh overall at EAWR. She came in at 16:22 over the four km.

Junior Kassidy Rea placed second in her class race with a 17:06.

At the end of her race Rea outkicked Dupo’s Sarah Vanover to get her 2nd place finish. Her time landed her in 12th place overall.

“Maggie and Kassidy both had very strong races,” Frerker began. “They were both very consistent through the miles and they were competitive the whole way. It was exciting to see that.”

Julia O’Neill of Althoff ran a 14:59 to win the senior race and grab the fastest time of the morning.

At the Madison County meet, Fitzgerald led the Kahoks with a time of 23:11.24. She finished in 23rd place.

Hannah Pettit was next for Collinsville in 28th place with a 25:18.76.

Rea finished just behind her with a 25:26.78.

“It’s a similar situation (to the boys) with the legs just being heavy,” Frerker said. “It was difficult for them to step up for the third race and I get it. It was a solid race but it wasn’t their best race.”

Both Kahok teams are off until next Saturday when they head to Granite City for the IHSA Class 3A Regional competition.

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