For Litchfield’s seniors, it was one last opportunity to put on the purple and black and prove themselves one step at a time. For the younger members of the team, it was a chance to get better against some of the best runners in the state, teams like last year’s champion Monticello, St. Joseph-Ogden, Tolono Unity and Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond, who won with 62 points.
But for all of the Litchfield cross country teams, the sectional at Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur on Saturday, Oct. 31, was a chance to be together one last time at a competition, with the adrenaline flowing and the camaraderie and cohesion intact before graduation and life take them in different directions.
As a team, the Litchfield boys would hang in there, finishing 13th, probably where they were supposed to in a loaded sectional. Their 307 points were 10 better than Carlinville, their SCC rival, who finished 14th, and 45 more than Father McGivney, who finished 12th and also finished ahead of Litchfield at the Carlinville Regional.
The Panthers had two seniors run in Decatur, Will Carlile and Eithan Rigsbey. Carlile ran in the opening flight with the number one and two runners and hung tough with the best of the best. He would go on to finish 29th overall, running a 17:12.0 to score a top 30 finish.
Rigsbey, who didn’t run at regionals, turned in a solid time of 20:06.9 in the third flight, which featured the number six and seven runners. Rigsbey’s time would be good for 108th in the 118 runner field on Saturday.
In his first taste of big time running, Camden Quarton ran a 17:49. Running with Carlile in the fastest flight, Quarton would be with the lead group early and would finish 53rd overall in the standings. He will continue to get better and better over his next three years at LHS.
Sophomore’s Gavin Thimsen and Sam Horn would also finish in the top 100 for Litchfield, with times of 18:40 .3 and 18:58.0 on the windy and winding course in Decatur. Thimsen would finish 85th in his final race of the season, while Horn was 92nd on the day.
Alex DeLaCruz, who will be one of next year’s seniors, along with Kevin Pollard and Brayden Davis, contributed Litchfield’s fifth scoring run, clocking in at 19:51.8 to place 105th on the day. Brandon Malloy rounded out the field for the Panthers, running a 20:25 to finish 113th and gain some valuable experience for next year, when he will be a junior.
While the 13th place finish may not have been where Litchfield would have liked to have ended up, the Panthers still have much to be proud of this season, with success at the regional and a conference title headed to their trophy case. With just two seniors graduating, the future is looking up for the LHS boys.
And the same could be said for their female counterparts, who finished 14th at the Decatur Sectional on Saturday.
The Lady Panthers, who started just one senior, finished the day with 361 points, 32 behind Teutopolis for 13th. Alton Marquette would finish 15th with 394, while Monticello won the event with 51 points.
The duo of sophomores Myka Fenton and Delanie Ulrich and junior Kylee Eiting did what they have done all year, provide a steady foundation for the Lady Panthers up top. Fenton and Ulrich finished 61st and 63rd respectively, coming five seconds apart with times of 21:21.6 and 21:26.8 as both competed in the first flight for the number one and two runners.
Eiting was in the next flight with the number three, four and five runners and was near the front of the pack in that group. She would finish 76th overall, posting a solid time of 22:15.1 to take 76th overall.
Madison Brakenhoff would finish in 104th with a time of 24:51.8, while Litchfield’s only female senior, Karly Kruse, ran a 25:53.3 to finish 105th.
Olivia Mitchell and Isabelle Murphy would compete in the third and final girls’ heat, made up of the sixth and seventh runners. Mitchell would finish 109th with a time of 26:29.1, while Murphy would run a 26:43.9, coming in 111th.
“The girls and boys performances at sectionals improved from last year. I focused the teams for conference and regionals in their training and tapering. I did that because that was our goal at the start of the season and they moved the goal a little bit further down the road in September,” Coach Jeremy Palmer said. “Any performances that were subpar at sectionals, that is on me and not the student athletes. They performed well all year long and gave it their best.”
Palmer said that both teams had great seasons this year, despite the odd circumstances surrounding it, and said that the team will miss Kruse, Rigsbey and Carlile.
“I am privileged and honored to coach such student athletes,” Palmer said of the teams. “We have a good number coming back from both the girls and boys teams. So next year looks bright, especially if the student athletes remember summer miles bring November smiles.”
October 31 at Decatur
Class 1A Sectional
Hickory Point Golf Course
Boys Team Results: 1. Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 62; 2. St. Joseph-Ogden 76; 3. Monticello 82; 4. Tolono Unity 120; 5. Robinson 191; 6. Effingham St. Anthony; 199; 7. Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin 208; 8. Marshall 214; 9. Newton 225; 10. Shelbyville 228; 11. Roxana 243; 12. Father McGivney 262; 13. Litchfield 307; 14. Carlinville 317; 15. Teutopolis 332.
Boys Individual Top Ten: 1. Layton Hall (ALAH) 15:27.6; 2. Tyler Guthrie (Father McGivney) 15:43.9; 3. Eli Mojonnier (BHRA) 15:49.1; 4. Jackson Grambart (Monticello) 15:5.5; 5. Logan Beckmier (ALAH) 16:02.0; 6. Josh Baysore (Monticello) 16:04.7; 7. Carlos Ruvalcaba (Roxana) 16:10.1; 8. Isaac Stanford (Flora) 16:13.1; 9. Nick Zwilling (Newton) 16:13.7; 10. Lyle Adcock (ALAH) 16:20.9.
Litchfield (307) - 29. Will Carlile 17:12.0; 53. Camden Quarton 17:49.0; 85. Gavin Thimsen 18:40.3; 92. Sam Horn 18:58.0; 105. Alex DeLaCruz 19:51.8; 108. Eithan Rigsbey 20:06.9; 113. Brandon Malloy 20:25.0.
October 31 at Decatur
Class 1A Sectional
Hickory Point Golf Course
Girls Team Results: 1. Monticello 51, 2. Tolono Unity 69, 3. Marshall 107, 4. Urbana University 130, 5. St. Joseph-Ogden 150, 6. Roxana 161, 7. Shelbyville 179, 8. Champaign St. Thomas More 185, 9. Robinson 228, 10. Casey-Westfield 274, 11. Father McGivney 305, 12. Neoga 315, 13. Teutopolis 329, 14. Litchfield 361, 15. Alton Marquette 394.
Girls Individual Top Ten: 1. Kate Ahmari (Urbana University) 18:29.4; 2. Mabry Bruhn (Monticello) 18:32.1; 3. Gabriella Moreman (Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin); 4. Grace Talbert (Monticello) 18:51.2; 5. Gabrielle Spain (Shelbyville) 18:57.8; 6. Erica Woodard (Tolono Unity) 18:59.9; 7. Mikayla Blanke (Urbana University) 19:05.7; 8. Rachel Koon (Monticello) 19:07.9; 9. Brooklyn Bender (Marshall) 19:11.2; 10. Estella Miller (Monticello) 19:15.5.
Litchfield (361) - 61. Myka Fenton 21:21.6; 63. Delanie Ulrich 21:26.8; 76. Kylee Eiting 22:15.1; 104. Madison Brakenhoff 24.51.8; 105. Karly Kruse 25.53.3; 109. Olivia Mitchell 26.29.1; 111. Isabelle Murphy 26.43.9.
Looking for photos from cross country season? Check out thejournal-news.smugmug.com.