In 2012, the Litchfield boys cross country team put five runners in the top 12 to come away with their second conference title in a row. But since that day in October, the honor of best in the South Central Conference has been just out of the grasp of the Purple Panthers, who finished second in 2013, but no higher than third in any year after that.
Until 2020, when the Litchfield boys ended their eight-year drought with a superb run at Southwestern High School to claim this year’s championship, their seventh boys’ title since 1997.
As they did in 2012, Litchfield placed their five scoring runners in the top 12 to come away with the victory, although the final margin was closer than the 11 points against Carlinville eight years ago.
Again the Cavies took second, scoring 47 points, eight more than Litchfield, who was victorious with 39 on the day. Roxana would be a close third with 51 points, powered by individual champion Carlos Ruvalcaba, while Greenville was fourth with 98 points.
Top honors for the Panthers went to freshman Camden Quarton, who ran a 17:08 to take second overall. Quarton was 27 seconds behind Ruvalcaba for first, but 15 seconds ahead of Carlinville freshman Will Meyer for the runner-up spot. Meyer and Quarton had raced five times before, with Meyer winning all six times by at least 18 seconds.
Quarton’s success was just the beginning of the good things in store for the Litchfield boys, who had all seven runners in the top 15.
Kevin Pollard finished sixth overall with a 17:51, while Will Carlile was eighth with a time of 18:09 to join Quarton on the all-conference team.
The all-conference honor was bestowed on Carlile for the third time in his career as the senior also placed fourth as a junior and tenth as a sophomore, while Pollard, a junior, and Quarton were first time recipients. Camden’s accolade did mark the 13th year that one of Brian and Lori Quarton’s offspring had earned all-conference status though, with Victoria (2008-11), Alexandria (2012-15) and Caroline (2016-19) carrying the torch before him.
Brandon Malloy and Gavin Thimsen would finish just outside of the top ten in 11th and 12th place, with times of 18:34 and 18:37 as both just missed the tenth spot, held by Carlinville’s Matt Dunn, who ran an 18:25.
Jack Goby of Carlinville would be on Thimsen’s heels in 13th with an 18:37 of his own, while Sam Horn was 14th for Litchfield with an 18:38. Alex DeLaCruz finished off the spectacular run by the Purple Panthers by taking 15th with a time of 18:53, putting all seven runners under the 19 minute mark.
Litchfield also had two runners compete in the JV race, held after the boys’ run that afternoon. Cy Cress would run a 24:30, while Peyton Baugher finished in a time of 27:47.
While the Panthers got the better of Carlinville on Monday, they will see the Cavies once again on Saturday, with high stakes on the line at Loveless Park in Carlinville. The two South Central Conference foes will join 14 other schools, including Greenville, Pana, Roxana, Staunton and future conference member, North Mac. The top five teams and top five runners not on an advancing team will move on to the Decatur St. Teresa Sectional meet at Hickory Point Golf Course on Oct. 31.
October 19 at Piasa
Boys South Central Conference Meet
Team Results: 1. Litchfield 39; 2. Carlinville 47; 3. Roxana 51; 4. Greenville 98.
Litchfield (39) - 2. Camden Quarton 17:08; 6. Kevin Pollard 17:51; 8. Will Carlile 18:09; 11. Brandon Malloy 18:34; 12. Gavin Thimsen 18:37; 14. Sam Horn 18:38; 15. Alex DeLaCruz 18:53; Cy Cress 24:30; Peyton Baugher 27:47.