For The First Time In Forever

Litchfield Boys Make History With State Berth

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For the first time ever, the Litchfield High School boys cross country program is going to state as a team.

The Panthers earned their trip to Detweiller Park in Peoria next Saturday by finishing fifth at the Wesclin Sectional on Oct. 30, where the top six teams and the top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to state.

With 194 points, the Panthers were comfortably in the field, finishing just 26 points behind fourth place Freeburg, who won last week’s regional meet in Swansea. Litchfield was also 20 points better than Belleville’s Althoff Catholic, who finished seventh at sectionals after coming in one spot ahead of the Panthers at the regional.

While some of the more familiar names (Quarton, Horn, Pollard) finished in their usual spots for LHS, a surprise from senior Alex DeLaCruz was key to Litchfield’s advancement. Six of the seven Litchfield runners ran better times at regionals than they did at sectionals, with DeLaCruz the exception as he cut 36 seconds off his time and finished 60th with a time of 18:30.14. It would be pure speculation to guess how Litchfield would have fared without the senior runner’s big day, but DeLaCruz’s performance definitely helped Litchfield’s pursuit of their first team advancement to state since at least IHSA started tracking state qualifiers on their website (1996).

DeLaCruz’s finish gave Litchfield four runners in the top 60 and all five scoring runners in the top half of the 156-runner field. After picking up the regional championship in Swansea, Camden Quarton had another stellar race as he placed sixth with a time of 16:32.22. Quarton was one of 15 runners to break 17 minutes in the race and finished a minute and 19 seconds behind race medalist Gavin Genisio of Benton for the top spot.

Sam Horn and Kevin Pollard would finish within five seconds of one another, coming in 45th and 46th respectively. Horn ran an 18:02.07 while Pollard clocked in at 18:05.88.

Brayden Davis joined his teammates in the top half of the field, finishing just a second behind DeLaCruz in a swarm to the finish. Davis ran an 18:31.39 to finish 64th, with just two seconds separating 58th and 65th.

Gavin Thimsen nearly finished in the top half of the field, finishing 79th (78 was the halfway point) with a time of 18:48.63. Kenny Traylor finished off the Litchfield lineup by finishing 126th with a time of 19:54.15.

The Panthers will be joined by 29 other teams and 50 individual qualifiers at the state finals in Peoria on Nov. 6, with the Class 1A boys race starting at 10 a.m., followed by the awards ceremony at 11 a.m.

Regardless of how Litchfield finishes at the tournament, the team has already made history. Since 1997, only five LHS runners have participated in the boys state tournament: Levi Hollo in 1997, Andy Thomack in 2002, Anthony Robinson in 2005 and Ryan Bishop in 2004 and 2005. That number will more than double this coming Saturday, with Quarton having a shot to finish in the top 25 and earn the school’s first medal in boys cross country.

Still, don’t look for the Panthers to be content with just making it to state. The best may be yet to come.

October 30 at Trenton

Class 1A Wesclin Sectional

Boys Team Results: 1. Benton 66; 2. Pinckneyville 81; 3. Steeleville 129; 4. Freeburg 168; 5. Litchfield 194; 6. Breese Mater Dei 210; 7. Althoff Catholic 214; 8. Nashville 225; 9. Wesclin 262; 10. DuQuoin 285; 11. Columbia 324; 12. Bluford Webber 325; 13. Carlinville 337; 14. Father McGivney 342; 15. Red Bud 364; 16. Anna-Jonesboro 398; 17. Carterville 428; 18. Pope County 448; 19. Vienna 478; 20. Marissa 492; 21. O’Fallon First Baptist Academy 517.

Individual State Qualifiers: 4. Landen Swiney (DuQuoin) 15:56.09; 5. Gavin Hill (Wesclin) 16:15.62; 7. Jack Hiller (Althoff) 16:36.11; 8. Grant Schleifer (Okawville) 16:39.66; 10. Nick Fehr (Red Bud) 16:44.00; 12. Seth Hamerski (Webber) 16:55.08; 14. Noah Hunt (Breese Central) 16:59.35; 18. Cole Gruenke (Wesclin) 17:06.39; 19. Brayden Hunter (Nashville) 17:09.04; 20. Nathan Smith (DuQuoin) 17:10.12.

Litchfield Boys Results: 6. Camden Quarton 16:32.22; 45. Sam Horn 18:02.07; 46. Kevin Pollard 18:05.88; 60. Alex DeLaCruz 18:30.14; 64. Brayden Davis 18:31.39; 79. Gavin Thimsen 18:48.63; 126. Kenny Traylor 19:54.15.

Litchfield Boys Cross Country State Qualifiers Since 1996 With Finish

2005 - 58. Ryan Bishop (SR), 100. Anthony Robinson (SO)

2004 - 91. Ryan Bishop (JR)

2002 - 96. Andy Thomack (SR)

1997 - 121. Levi Hollo (JR)

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