Watts, XC Teammates Win at Granite City

Landon Vuagniaux, Sports Editor

The clock read 10:15. With a mile left to go, there was only one thing running through junior Ryan Watts’ head: “…run faster than my[his] old teammate Jack Pifer did last year.” Watts gave it everything to beat Pifer’s 15:17 time from last year.

Watts reached the last stretch of the race; he was thirty meters out with 14:55 on the board. He couldn’t believe it, but he might run a sub-fifteen minute race. He closed in: 20 meters, 10 meters, 5. 

He crossed the finish. The clock displayed 15:00.34. He hadn’t reached the finish before the fifteen minute mark; however, his efforts were not in vain.

He finished in first place and beat his previous personal record by 30 seconds Watts said.

“…Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to go under, but I was happy to grab the win and help my team claim the team title,” Watts said.

The boys cross country team won their 3A division meet on Saturday at Granite City’s Wilson Park. According to Watts, there were 23 teams total. EHS competed against six teams in the division, with O’Fallon being the biggest competitor Watts said.

Despite Watts’ win, he said that the team win would not have been possible without the help of his teammates.

“…We knew going into the race it would be a team effort of us versus O’Fallon,” Watts said. “Coach gave us a perfect game plan, and the boys executed it perfectly…”

One of his teammates was pleased with everyone’s performance as well.

“The team did great this weekend,” junior Ryan Luitjohan said. “We had four[runners] in the top ten, and our top five in the top twenty five.” 

Luitjohan placed fifth in the division and seventh overall this weekend. He said it was his personal goal to place top five and that it was part of the team goal going into the meet.

“The game plan was to have the top four of us in the front pack, while our 5-7[the last three runners on the team] in the following group, trying to get ahead as many as they could,” Luitjohan said.”

Others in the “top four” included Watts, Geo Patrylak, and Drew Stover. Stover took ninth, Patrylak placed third, and Watts won overall. Their scores, with their teammates’ scores, allowed them to win the invitational, making it the second year in row that EHS has won at Wilson Park, according to Luitjohan.

Not only did the boys team do well, but the girls team also had a great meet. The team ended up taking second place behind O’Fallon, junior Makenna Lueking said. 

“We had the goal of beating O’Fallon; however, we were 3 points shy of that goal,” Lueking said. “I did not do as well as I had hoped, but I just have to work hard in the practices this week and be ready for the next race.”

In practices leading up to the meet, Lueking said the team worked on running in a tighter group, subsequently running a better “pack time.” She said this was the girls main struggle in this race. Otherwise, Lueking said the team had no major problems.

“We did very well,” Lueking said. “Our girls team did better at this meet than in years past, so that was very exciting.”

The combined efforts of the girls and boys cross country teams provided for an impressive outing for the entire EHS team.

“…[I think] we are just scratching the surface of what Edwardsville cross country has to offer this year. I think we have a really strong team this year, ready to wreak havoc,” Watts said.