MARION — Marion sophomore John Bruce had a couple of goals in mind when he took off on his home cross country course for the South Seven Conference meet Thursday.
One — to win the South Seven Conference title. Two — set a course record. He can check off both of those goals.
Bruce ran the 2.98 mile course in 15:43, shaving eight seconds off the record to lead Marion to its second-straight boys title.
Meanwhile, Carbondale’s Madeline Prideaux covered the course in 19:45.7, 22 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor to lead five other teammates to all-conference finishes as the Terriers captured the girls title.
Bruce’s record especially impressed his coach, Eli Baker, who admitted it’s hard to set a record when you run by yourself. Nobody threatened Bruce, who had establish at least a 15-second advantage by the end of the first mile and added to it. He beat the field by 39 seconds.
“John’s goal was to break the course record,” Baker said. “He ran the race by himself the whole way. To set a course record without any help says a lot about you.”
Bruce wasn’t the only impressive Marion runner. The Wildcats placed four runners in the top 10 as Michael Rutkowski finished second, Levi Bryant third and Jade Chew sixth.
“The knew these guys, their ability levels,” Baker said. “They’ve raced them all season. Carbondale’s got a good little pack. They showed that by finishing second today, but we had to be in front of that pack because we didn’t want to chance it.”
Carbondale’s Ethan Cherry and Shawn McKitrick finished fourth and fifth to lead the Terriers to a second place finish. My. Vernon finished third.
In the girls race, Prideaux surprised her coach and the field with the seemingly easy win.
“Madeline Prideaux definitely shocked us today by taking overall first,” said Carbondale coach Greg Storm. “She’s been slowly progressing throughout the season. We knew she could be a top three girl. For her to run like she did today was great.”
Carbondale runners finished one, four, seven, eight, nine and 10, putting six Lady Terriers on the all-South Seven team.
“Our main goal is to keep as tight a pack as possible,” Storm said. “It was a good meet overall for us. We really do better on the tougher, hillier courses like this one.”
Althoff’s Tiffani Siekmann finished second while Savanah Childers of Mt. Vernon was third. Rose Kippenbrock of Carbondale was fourth and Bria Moore of Mt. Vernon rounded out the top five.