GRANITE CITY - Ryan Watts was the overall individual winner, and four Edwardsville runners finished in the top ten as the Tigers won the boys overall championship of the 47th Granite City Invitational cross country meet held Saturday morning at Wilson Park.

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The Tigers won the overall meet with a score of 45 points, with O'Fallon coming in second with 68, Mascoutah was third with 125 points, Collinsville was fourth with 200 points, Triad fifth with 202, Freeburg sixth at 206, Belleville East seventh at 219, Belleville West came in eighth at 243, Civic Memorial was ninth at 266, and Father McGivney Catholic rounded out the top ten with 272 points.

Highland placed 11th with 302 points, the host Warriors were 12th with 353, Breese Mater Dei Catholic was 13th with 362, Steeleville was 14th with 371 points, Belleville Althoff Catholic was 15th with 387, Alton came in 16th with 395, Trenton Wesclin was 17th with 414 points, Roxana was 18th with 422, Waterloo was 19th with a score of 461, and Columbia placed 20th with 511 points.

Metro-East Lutheran was 21st with 565 points, East St. Louis came in 22nd with a score of 654, and O'Fallon First Baptist Academy was 23rd with a score of 660 points.

The format was changed around this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, where the Class 1A schools ran first, followed by Class 2A schools, and finally the Class 3A schools, with all results combined to determine the overall champions, both team and individually. And much went right for the Tigers on the day.

"We had a lot of positives, especially for our first invite," said Edwardsville coach George Patrylak. "First big chance for all our guys and girls to race since state. So, pretty exciting."

The expectations for the Tigers were pretty high, and were very successful as well.

"Boys side, our expectations was to try to go for a win, honestly," Patrylak said. "We knew in the area, up front, we have probably the best, best pack. And we're trying to see, our goal each meet is going to be to close, get the five, six, seven closer. We also wanted to see how many people we could place in the top five individually. I thought Watts would have a chance to compete for the title, especially some of the times earlier in the morning, I thought, would be a little bit faster, especially with the difference in temperatures, but Watts was right at 15 flat, and that might be the fastest time we've had an Edwardsville person run at the kickoff meets. That's excellent."

And of course, Patrylak is very happy that the season is underway, despite the pandemic, and is also happy to see his runners competing.

"Yeah, I mean, obviously, I'm not going to complain with the kids having the opportunity to compete," Patrylak said. "Myself, being a coach, each meet, getting to see the kids in their uniform, I know I feel like a little kid, and those competitive juices get going, and it's exciting. It feels like we're home whenever we see the kids in their uniforms and racing. So, I'm glad we get that opportunity."

Granite head coach Richie Skirball felt things went really well for his host team as well, and the format of the meet went off without a hitch.

"I think we did really well,' Skirball said. "It took, because of the different format, we had to be a lot more mentally tough, and that's kind of a tough thing. You have all these varsity-caliber runners running in three different races, and so, when you'd be in a normal race, you would see more people, but if you kind of get caught in no man's land, you've got to kind of think about who is around you, and you've got to think about a couple of races prior to. So I thought we did excellent, based on how we had to compete today, and it was a good, good showing today."

The Warrior boys did very well, and had many good performances in the meet.

"On our guys side, Randy Gardner was a top finisher. He gutted out a really good, tough race in the last half of the race. We had some good performances by our middle pack, Tommy Westbrook and Aaron McKeal ran really well in the two-three, and also, Mason Drake and Jackson Kirk ran their personal bests."

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Things also went well for Civic Memorial on the day.

"I haven't had time to look at results yet, so I can't really sit down and fully assess, but I thought we did a really good job just being brave, getting out there, and committing to the race early today," said Eagles coach Jake Peal. "Whatever happened after that, we're just ready to race, so that's all that mattered to me."

Aslan Henderson set the pace for the Eagles on the day, and all the other runners followed suit.

"Absolutely," Peal said. "You look at how Aslan set the tone for the boys. Our mantra this year is 'See Purple, Find Purple.' We wanted to see each other in races, and we want to keep working with each other, so I definitely know that's what the boys did today."

Roxana also had some good performances on the day, led by Carlos Ruvalcaba, who was the top finisher for the Shells on the day.

"Well, we did pretty well," said Roxana head coach Scott Edwards. "We have a lot to work on, but the race plan didn't develop how we talked about. It didn't end up pretty good for us."

Besides Ruvalcaba, Edwards singled out Kaleb St. Cyr for his efforts on the morning.

"Kaleb St. Cyr had a great race," Edwards said. "I think he dropped more than a minute on his time on his time today, so he was in the 17s, 17:30s; I think he dropped maybe a minute 15. Matthew Olbert was our third guy; he was just over 18. So those top three are tough, and they didn't have the miles they were supposed to this summer, except for Stick, he's doing great. All in all, not a bad day for the top three boys."

Watts was the overall winner with a time of 15:00.34, with Justin Mumford of Wesclin second at 15:25.35, Geordan Patrylak of the Tigers third with a time of 15:38.39, McGivney's Tyler Guthrie fourth at 15:47.29, O'Fallon's Nick Edwards was fifth at 15:49.13, Byron Jones of Belleville East came in sixth at 15:58.57, Edwardsville's Ryan Luitjohan was seventh at 15:59.99, Joe Schwartz of Waterloo came in eighth with a time of 16:10.21, the Tigers' Drew Stover was ninth at 16:10.62, and Highland's Easton Rosen rounded out the top ten with a time of 16.15.05.

Other runners for the Tigers were Jacob Grandone, who had a time of 16:59.03, Jack Draper, who's time was 17:04.26, and Owen Gruben at 17:27.47. Outside of Guthrie, the Griffins runners were Brandon Ahring, who came in at 17:18.61, Riley Strack at 17:34.45, Tanner Fox had a time of 18:09.68, Andrew Dupy came in at 18:54.16, Noah Beltremea had a time of 19:03.39, and Nolan Shearer came in at 19:52.57.

The Kahoks top three runners were Theo Paxton, who had a time of 16:45.18, Trey Peterson at 16:52.10, and Axel Muniz at 17:24.54. Triad's top three were Caleb Bagwell, who's time was 16:55.17, Ethan Dudley, who came in at 17:05.14, and Andrew Pace, at 17:08.93. Henderson led the way for the Eagles with a time of 17:12.11, while Jackson Collman had a time of 17:31.76, and Justice Eldredge came in at 17:32.68.

The host Warriors were led by Gardner, who had a time of 17:41.99, Westbrook at 17:51.51, and McKeal, who had a time of 17:56.32. The top three Redbird runners were Christian Kotzamanis at 17:29.60, Dylan Forsythe at 17:39.33, and Simon McClaine, who came in at 18:41.28. Ruvalcaba led the Shells with a time of 16:45.43, with St. Cyr finishing at 17:37.70, and Olbert having a time of 18:03.52. The top three runners for Metro-East were Elijah Schlessinger, with a time of 18:07.41, Logan Wyatt right behind at 18:07.42, and Ethan Ashauer, who came in at 20:16.67. In addition, East Alton-Wood River had three runners in the race, with Marcus O'Dell coming in at 19:10.02, Pacey Myers at 25.44.05, and Evan Baker at 29:51.15. Marquette Catholic runners who competed were Michael Hudson at 23:22.55, and Daniel Kline, who had a time of 23:22.98.

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