CoEd Varsity Cross Country
Game Summaries & Headlines.
Wrong turn DQ’s entire girls field at Alton Invite
Centralia rolls to boys title at Moore Park
Greg Shashack, email@example.com
Greg Shashack | The Telegraph
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Belleville East’s Hannah Eastman (left) and Marquette Catholic’s Riley Vickrey sprint the final yards to the finish Wednesday at the Alton Invitational cross country meet at Moore Park in Alton. No results
ALTON – Against her better judgment, Riley Vickrey followed the leader one mile into the girls race at the Alton Invitational cross country meet.
“I thought I knew it and I was going to go the right way,” Vickrey said. “But I saw the lead girl – I was maybe 30 meters behind her – and saw her go right. I was like, maybe she knows it better and it got changed from last year, so I just followed her because I thought she knew.”
Turns out, she did not.
A wrong turn cut a full mile off the three-mile layout at Gordon Moore Park – and another missed turn approaching the finish – forced race officials to disqualify the entire girls field that followed the leader.
“Officially, there was no race for the girls,” Alton coach and race director Vernon Curvey said. “There’s no times, no medals, no nothing for the girls race.”
The non-race produced a dramatic dash to the finish between Belleville East’s Hannah Eastman and Vickrey after Eastman again went off course and had to back track more than 100 yards, giving up a comfortable lead and creating a frantic sprint to the finish.
Both runners had plenty left in the tank in a run reduced to about two miles. Vickrey will write if off as a practice run. “That’s basically what it was,” she said.
Vickrey spent the final mile at Moore Park knowing something had gone wrong after the field had gone right.
“On the first mile, we’re supposed to go left — or you can go right,” Vickrey said. “We took right, ran up the two-mile hill and starting looping the whole finish. It was two miles. I just knew it was wrong.”
Curvey said there was no race official on the course to direct traffic at the one-mile mark because there has never been a need.
“That is a spot that we have not had a problem with,” Curvey said. “This is the 18th year I’ve coached and we’ve never had a problem at that spot. … The girls tell me there was somebody down there telling them to go the wrong way. Whether that happened, I don’t know. It’s a spot we’ve not had a problem with. It’s not a new spot on the course.”
The defending Alton Invite champions were both taking leisurely runs before the race, but both Staunton sophomore Lydia Roller and Granite City senior Andrew O’Keefe opted to rest their legs rather than run in the midweek meet.
The boys race went off without GPS issues and the Centralia Orphans put five runners in the top 11 to easily win the championship in a nine-team field. The Orphans finished with 27 points to beat runner-up Belleville East (59). Collinsville (80), Civic Memorial (89), Jersey (142), Granite City (161), Alton (180), McCluer North (189) and Marquette (253) completed the boys field.
Centralia’s Crede Correll won the race in 16 minutes, 42.45 seconds, with East’s Byron Jones second in 16:50.42. Orphans finished 3-4 and a Lancer was fifth before Alton junior Cassius Havis hit the chute in sixth in 17:07.66 after leading much of the first mile.
“He was really looking forward to this race,” Curvey said of Havis. “It was his. He looked good at the mile, right where he was supposed to be.”
But Havis would have embraced the wrong turn the girls took at mile two.
“I got to about the second mile and felt pretty bad,” Havis said. “My legs weren’t going. And as they continued to pass me, I couldn’t go with them. I couldn’t keep up.”
CM’s Mark Eldridge turned in a top 10 effort, finishing in 17:35.33 to place 10th. The Eagles’ Drake Stephenson (18:23.38) was 16th and Julian Pizzo (18:33.68) was 17th. Jersey’s Christian Cazier, who was 11th in this race last season, came home in 20th in 18:36.16, while teammate Asher Stidd (18:44.27) was 21st.
Alton’s Havis had hoped for better after placing third here last season and coming off a strong run to finish third Saturday at the Edwardsville Invite at SIUE.
“I’m going to put this one behind me,” Havis said. “I’m a bit disappointed. Saturday, I had a pretty good race. Today, I didn’t perform how I wanted.”