After earning their first conference title in eight years on Monday, the Litchfield boys cross country team put together a solid effort at the Carlinville Regional and came away with a second place finish at Loveless Park on a cool Oct. 24 afternoon.
Going up against a very good Shelbyville squad and a Father McGivney team led by last year’s 15th place state finisher Tyler Guthrie, not to mention SCC foes Carlinville and Roxana, Litchfield needed to bring their best to Carlinville in order to have a shot at a regional title.
While that wouldn’t be in the cards for the Panthers, as Shelbyville put all seven runners in the top 30, with four in the top 13, Litchfield did have a great performance with all of its runners finishing in the top half of the 80 runner field with times of 18:32 or better.
As has been the case all this year, Camden Quarton and Will Carlile led the Panthers on Saturday, which featured a flighted race system to keep the number of runners low due to COVID-19 requirements.
Quarton and Carlile ran in the first group with the number one and two runners and more than held their own with the regional’s best.
Only two runners would beat Quarton to the finish line as the Litchfield freshman ran a 16:14.39 to finish third overall. Guthrie would finish first, running a 15:18.92, despite a slight wrong turn on the final lap that cost him a few seconds, while back-to-back conference champion Carlos Ruvalcaba of Roxana was eight seconds ahead of Quarton with a time of 16:06.61.
Shelbyville’s Lucus Stokes would finish fourth with a time of 16:22.24, while Carlile was fifth, running a time of 16:45.05 for his second top five finish at regionals of his career.
While Quarton and Carlile have been very good throughout the season, the unsung heros of the team have been the runners like Kevin Pollard, Sam Horn and Gavin Thimsen, who took the three through five spots for the Panthers on Saturday.
Pollard, who was 41st last year at the Shelbyville Regional, was an all-conference honoree this year and 18th at the regional with a time of 17:32.70. Horn was 37th last year as a freshman with an 18:51, ran a 18:06 at Carlinville and secured the 32nd spot, while Thimsen, another sophomore, ran an 18:11.24 and finished 33rd overall.
Neither Thimsen nor Alex DeLaCruz and Brandon Malloy were part of the Panther team that finished fourth at Shelbyville last year, but contributed greatly to the squad this year. DeLa Cruz finished 36th with a time of 18:30.89, while Malloy was 37th with a time of 18:31.39.
With excellence at the top and consistency throughout the line-up, this year has been one to remember for the Panthers, and one that will continue next week at the Decatur St. Teresa Sectional at Hickory Point Golf Course.
Litchfield will compete against the top five teams from the Carlinville, Decatur St. Teresa and Chrisman regionals, along with the top five runners from non-advancing teams from each of those regionals.
With no state tournament due to COVID-19, the sectionals are the athletes final chance to prove that their journey has made them the best version of themselves that they can be.
October 24 at Carlinville
Class 1A Regional
Loveless Park - 3 Miles
Team Results: 1. Shelbyville 55; 2. Litchfield 87; 3. Father McGivney 94; 4. Carlinville 96; 5. Roxana 108; 6. Altamont 132; 7. Metro-East Lutheran 160; 8. Cowden-Herrick 230; 9. Greenville 239; 10. Southwestern 265.
Top Ten: 1. Tyler Guthrie (Father McGivney) 15:18.92; 2. Carlos Ruvalcaba (Roxana) 16:06.61; 3. Camden Quarton (Litchfield) 16:14.39; 4. Lucas Stokes (Shelbyville) 16:22.24; 5. Will Carlile (Litchfield) 16:45.05; 6. Calvin Miller (Shelbyville) 16:46.55; 7. Ty Zerrusen (Shelbyville) 16:52.95; 8. Logan Wyatt (Metro-East Lutheran) 16:53.80; 9. Will Meyer (Carlinville) 17:06.17; 10. Brody Harris (Carlinville) 17:17.55.
Litchfield (87) - 3. Camden Quarton 16:14.39; 5. Will Carlile 16:45.05; 18. Kevin Pollard 17:32.70; 32. Sam Horn 18:06.67; 33. Gavin Thimsen 18:11.24; 36. Alex DeLaCruz 18:30.89; 37. Brandon Malloy 18:31.39.