Community cross country teams gear up for 3A Granite City Sectional after strong Regional performances

Communitys boys cross country team has a chance to qualify for State as a team. The top six teams from each Sectional advance to the State meet. 
Despite strong Sectional competition, with a good race, the Iron can earn a 5th or 6th place finish.
Community’s boys cross country team has a chance to qualify for State as a team. The top six teams from each Sectional advance to the State meet. Despite strong Sectional competition, with a good race, the Iron can earn a 5th or 6th place finish.
Mr. Jeff Christopherson

The boys and girls cross country teams will race in the 3A Granite City Sectional on Saturday, Oct. 28, after the boys took third in the Alton Regional on Oct. 21 and the girls finished fourth. 

Last weekend, Joey Yaros was first to the finish for Community in sixth, posting a time of 15:55.38. 

The junior finished behind a pack of Panthers, as the first five finishers were all of O’Fallon High School, the Regional champions for the second straight season.

Community finished the meet with 80 points, 26 behind repeat runners-up the Edwardsville Tigers.   

Two Edwardsville runners would cross the finish line before senior Jack Thomas. Thomas completed the course in 16:11.42, good for 10th.

A.J. Ince and Nate Witzig were less than a second apart at the finish, with Ince taking 20th (16:51.20) and Witzig in 21st (16:51.44).

Not far behind was Drew Patterson in 23rd (16:54.93).

While O’Fallon and Edwardsville repeated last season’s Regional results, going one-two, Community improved upon 2022’s fourth-place finish.

That improvement indicates that with a good race on Saturday, the Iron have an outside chance to qualify for State, something they were unable to do last season.  

“Our goal at Sectionals,” Thomas said, “is to beat Edwardsville to qualify for State.”

The Iron finished behind Edwardsville in the Regional, which can be attributed to the Iron’s race strategy. 

Community, Thomas said, approached the race more as a workout. 

“We didn’t… go all out,” the senior said. “We all stuck together for the first mile.”

The tactic was a reaction to the course’s terrain, Thomas said, one that required running on several different surfaces over the three-miles: gravel, pavement, concrete, grass and turf… 

And the fact the course was unfamiliar to the racers and their coaches, as the Iron had never raced at Alton before last weekend.. 

“Our coaches… wanted us to stick together for the first mile of it so we wouldn’t go too fast because there were many hills and loose rocks everywhere,” Thomas said. 

The strategy paid off.

“We ended up passing a lot of people” toward the end of the race, Thomas said, a “placing a lot higher than we would have” we approached the first mile with more aggression. 

Come Saturday, though, the team is not planning on holding back. 

They take the course at Wilson Park at 11 a.m.


In the girls race, Community’s 112 points placed them behind Edwardsville (49), Normal West (60) and O’Fallon (83). 

First to the finish for the Iron was senior Ali Ince, who secured third with a time of 18:38.89. 

Ince was satisfied with her individual performance, she said. 

“I think last year, I got fifth or sixth,” Ince said. “This year–third. It’s always good to see some improvement.” 

That improvement came despite a challenging course.

Again, the terrain was a factor as it influenced the team’s equipment choices.

You couldn’t wear spikes, Ince said, because of the gravel, the sidewalks. Instead, the Iron raced in “regular running shoes,” Ince said, something unfamiliar and “different.” 

While the race was different, it also was “very difficult,” Ince said.

Ince called the hilliest of her entire high school career. 

“I would say at least half of it was uphill.”

And while Community’s girls will have another uphill battle Saturday as a repeat a trip to State is unlikely with an incredibly young core, the underclassmen have impressed Ince this season.  

“It’s just awesome to advance the team,” the senior said. 

“I’m really proud of our team this year,” Ince said. “To come to Regionals and qualify for Sectionals, with only having so many girls, is really impressive.”

Community’s girls team’s roster is the smallest in history, with just 13 runners. 

It is also one of Community’s youngest teams ever. Of those runners, the team boasts one senior and two juniors.

Sophomore Lily Cavanaugh makes a return trip to Sectionals after finishing 15th (20:11.67).

After last week, Cavanaugh is looking forward to Saturday. 

Regionals, she said, “wasn’t my favorite race, but I did better than I thought I would.”

“I’m just looking forward to competing and looking forward to the course,” the team’s consistent second runner said. “I’ve heard it’s really quick.”

It can be–Saturday’s course is where Ince set her three-mile personal record, finishing 16:58 in 2020. 

While a record-breaking performance isn’t likely for the senior who has raced in just a handful of meets this season, Ince does have the rare opportunity to qualify for a fourth State appearance.

This will be the first trip to Sectionals for Beatrix Alvarez. The sophomore took 23rd in Regionals at 20:51.67.

“I feel really proud of myself,” Alvarez said.

And she should. Alvarez has shown incredible improvement as a racer, Patten said, from her freshman season to this year. 

Alvarez is proud of her team, too, she said. 

Freshman Lauren Thomas and sophomore Audra Wolf rounded out scoring for Community, placing 31st (21:22.01) and 40th (22:22.81) respectively. 

Junior Anna Fukumoto was just out of the points, finishing 41st, less than a second behind Wolf (22:23.54).

The girls race at 10 a.m., and the results will be posted here after the 

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