The Redbirds' Simon McClaine glides over the hurdles in Tuesday's relays meet at Edwardsville. (Photo by Dan Brannan)EDWARDSVILLE - Simon McClaine, a star hurdler for the Alton High boys track team, is off to a great start in the new outdoor season, winning both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles races in helping the Redbirds finish a solid fourth in the Southwest Illinois Relays, the season's first big outdoor meet, Tuesday afternoon at the Winston Brown Track and Field Complex in Edwardsville.

Simon McClaineMcClaine won the 110 meters at 15.91 seconds, then took first in the 300 meters at 41.73 seconds, a strong start to the outdoor season after enjoying a successful indoor season. He was also a part of the 4x400 meter relay team that came in third at 3:38.91, climaxing a good opening day.

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In an interview conducted before the 4x400 meter relay, McClaine expressed his feelings about his day.

"I'm feeling pretty good so far," McClaine said. "I've won both of my open events and I'm about to hit the (4x400) in a second."

McClaine had a successful 2022 campaign and for his senior year, he's hoping to do the same and also cut his times down as well.

"This year, I feel I've got to do the same stuff, except I've got to get my times faster," McClaine said. "I'd like to place a little better at state this year. That's my main goal."

McClaine enjoyed a very successful indoor season.

"Yeah, really good start," McClaine said. "I just got done with (the Illinois) Top Times and I finished 17th," referring to the unofficial state indoor track meet, held last weekend in Bloomington. "So so far, it's looking up."

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McClaine has some lofty and ambitious goals that he's looking to achieve this season.

"I want to get my 800 (meters) time down," McClaine said. "I'm really trying to impress college coaches, get as many looks as possible, and then, move on to a new level after my senior year."

As for the Redbirds, McClaine's goal is to help the team as much as possible, with valuable points that can help Alton finish high in its meets.

"I've got to bring as many points as possible," McClaine said. "I think we've got a good chance this year at scoring a lot better in meets than we did last year. I'm looking for just an overall better Alton team this year."

The influx of many new younger runners should help the Redbirds improve vastly by the time the state meet comes up in May.

"Last year, we didn't have a lot of guys come out," McClaine said, "and we were kind of like short-staffed. This year, we've got a lot of freshmen and sophomores that came out. So, our team is a lot bigger and we have more fun and we're way more competitive than we were before."

The younger athletes can definitely make a big difference for the Redbirds' fortunes this season.

"Especially when they come in with talent previously from, like, eighth grade," McClaine said, "with their good coaches down there."

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