BENTON — Benton sophomore Amelia McLain successfully defended her Ohio Division girls cross country title with a record performance, and all four championship schools from the 2016 meet repeated their feats at the SIRR conference championships at Benton City Park on Thursday.
“My goal was to repeat and I wanted to break my course record,” McLain said. “I’ve been training for this and this is the first time I’ve broke that time this year.”
McLain broke her own course record by .14 seconds ,with a winning time of 18:09. Massac County's Ansley Bailey was .19 seconds behind.
“I was on my goal, I stayed strong and felt good today,” McLain said. “I wanted to go out fast and stay strong through the first mile and then give it my all for the third mile.”
Pinckneyville senior Garrett Johnson also broke the course record held by Justin Mumford from Trenton-Wesclin by .23 seconds to finish first overall and win his first Mississippi Division conference title with a time of 15:05.
“I just wanted to take off fast and get a good lead going before slowing back down to pace with the second place person and then kick it in at the end and take it home,” Johnson said.
Defending Mississippi champion Brandon Schnitker, a junior from Nashville, also broke Mumford’s record (15:23) with a time of 15:16, to finish second.
Winning his first Ohio Division conference title was Herrin junior Michael Oliver with a time of 15:51, to edge Benton senior Kyle Sneed by .12 seconds and miss his personal best by five seconds.
“This was a goal,” Oliver said. “I was trying to get out nice and smooth so I wouldn’t die because Benton’s got a lot of good hills and I needed to conserve. The last two thirds I knew I had to go and right before the end I knew there was a Benton guy right behind me, so I knew I really had to pick it up.”
Nashville’s Jaylyn Bower also won her first Mississippi Division conference title by .09 seconds over Pinckneyville junior Kyla Epplin with a time of 18:56.
“I didn’t know I won until this interview because I thought the three girls ahead of me were in our division,” Bower said. “I really surprised myself this race because I haven’t been winning a lot of races usually running three or four on the team."
The Herrin Tigers took home their fourth straight Ohio Division girls title by two points over West Frankfort, led by Kaelan Hall, in third place, with a time of 18:51. Charli Elliott came in sixth (20.44) and Alexis Hawes seventh (21.44) to also earn All-Conference honors.
“Our number five girl was hurt and didn’t run what I thought she might run, but still ran a great race, but overall the girls finished where we pretty much mapped out,” said Herrin coach Dusty Mallow.
Nashville won its second straight Mississippi Division girls title by eight points over Pinckneyville. Joining Bower on the All-Conference team were Grace Maschhoff (7th, 19:35), Destyn Hausner (9th, 19:44) and Sabrina Kollbaum (10th, 19:46).
“Our girls are very strong,” said Nashville coach Jenny Olson. “Jaylyn has risen to her potential."
On the boys side, Pinckneyville won its third straight Mississippi Division title. Grant Batteau finished fourth (15:42) followed by Dustin Bartnicki eighth and Liam Oliver ninth, both with times of 16:06, to earn All-Conference honors.
“When we looked at things yesterday I told them we hoped we had a chance to get four on the all-conference team,” said Pinckneyville coach Ryan Bruns. “Garrett has been good all year, however he laid it down and had a breakthrough race. Our course record here was 16:07 in my first year and he beat that by over a minute, and the course is harder now than it was 10 years ago.”
Benton successfully defended its Ohio Division title by 22 points over 2015 champion Herrin by placing five runners on the All-Conference team. Joining Sneed (16:03) were Avery Potter (3rd, 16:04), Brady Gischer (4th, 16:06), Joey Sample (6th, 16:18) and Ethan Krieger (9th, 16:29).
“Our boys were looking forward to this all year,” said Benton coach Brent McLain. “We knew what they were capable of, but we still have a lot of potential with some big races coming up.”