By Mark Jurgena
It’s been the best year for the Collinsville boys cross country team in quite a few years however the 2020 season came to an end Saturday on a raw day at the Class 3A Sectional at Maxwell Park in Normal.
The Kahoks finished in 14th place in the rugged field of competitors. Yorkville won the team title with 61 points. Minooka finished next with 73 while Edwardsville placed third with 94 points.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” said Collinsville coach Darryl Frerker. “Some of these boys haven’t been there before, obviously the freshmen and David (Garcia), so a lot of new bodies up there so it was an eye-opener.”
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the sectional was the end of the line for cross country runners in the state of Illinois for 2020.
COVID also changed the format of the race as well. It was divided into four races this year based on individual rankings within each team with individual qualifiers facing the top runners from the 15 qualifying teams.
The final individual and team standings were determined by time regardless of which race an athlete competed in.
Collinsville’s Trey Peterson, a freshman, ran in the #2 and #3 race and finished with the top time for the Kahoks. He ran a 16:27 which put him in 28th place overall. Even if COVID had not shut down the state meet, he would’ve fallen just shy of qualifying as an individual by a single place.
“Kudos to him!” Frerker said. “Running against a little more talent I think that shows where he sits. In parts of the race where you want to put yourself in a position where you’re not caught in no man’s land, he did close a gap and he did challenge himself to run with guys in the race where it was critical to throw in a surge and/or stay with a couple of guys.”
Senior Theo Paxton was in the 1st man race along with individual qualifiers. He ended up in 39th spot overall with a time of 16:38.
Junior Brock Cunningham and senior Axel Muniz placed next for the Kahoks running a 107 and 108 respectively. Competing in different races the two CHS runners recorded an identical time of 17:55. Cunningham was 0.4 faster.
Senior Kevin Varela finished in the 112 spot with an 18:08 while freshman Andrew Gonski was 115th with a time of 18:51.
Junior David Garcia placed 116th with a time of 19:00.
“Like I said it was an eye-opener,” Frerker said. “Hopefully this is something that we can build on. They were all excited! It was a great day from that standpoint because I think they’re motivated to train. I think they’re motivated to get back there next year.”
Junior Ryan Watts of Edwardsville backed up his regional title win with a sectional crown as well. He covered the course in 15:21. Watts also won the SWC crown in early October.
While the underclassmen from all the teams have the opportunity to compete again next year, the seniors finished their careers Saturday.
“I’m going to miss these guys,” began Frerker. “I knew their freshman year that if we could put some guys around them that we were going to do well. They stayed with the program, they trained, they ran well through the years. It was fun to go through the four years with them. They are a good group of boys.”