GRANITE CITY – The distance runners of the Edwardsville High boys track team provided the backbone of the Tigers’ success at the Granite City Invitational meet on Friday afternoon and evening at Memorial Stadium/Kevin Greene Field, as Edwardsville tied with Alton for sixth place on the day, both teams finishing with 56 points.

There were some miscues among the relay teams, but the distance and hurdlers performed well.

“You know, I think we left a few points out there in some of our sprint relays with some bad hand-offs,” said Tigers head coach Chad Lakatos, “but our distance crews really looked strong, and our 300 (meter) hurdlers, I thought, ran great races. So I’m pleased with those performances. Like I’ve said before, we are always going to continue to work, and we’re starting to find pieces of where kids should belong in certain relays, so hopefully, we can take that from this meet.”

The 3,200-meter race involving Tiger distance runners Roland Prenzler and Jack Pifer, along with Granite City’s Andrew O’Keefe, was considered the meet’s feature race, and it didn’t disappoint.

“Wow!,” Lakatos said with a smile. “Yeah, you know, usually, I go and grab a soda or get something to eat during that race, no offense to the two-milers. But I knew it was going to be a great race, with O’Keefe and Max (Hartmann) and Pifer and some of the other competitors. Man, it was such a great race to watch, and the top three, all three of them set (personal records), and exciting race to for the entire crowd to see as well, so yeah, I was very pleased with Roland’ he’s definitely headed to ahead of where he was last year at this point, so excited to see where he can go.”

An argument can be made that Prenzler, Pifer, and O’Keefe are the top three distance runners in the area, if not the entire state of Illinois.

“I don’t know about the whole state, but definitely in our area,” Lakatos said. “You know, there are some strong runners up north, but for those guys to put up those times at a meet like this, I’m not saying that this isn’t a big meet, but you know, just a great performance from all the competitors.”

Lakatos also singled out Alexander Valdez for his performance in the 800 meters, coming in sixth with a time of 2:04.70, Daniel Powell in the 300-meter hurdles, finishing fourth at 41.15 seconds, and Hartmann, who set a personal record of 4:32.63 in finishing third in the 1,600 meters.

‘Our distance crews are really the backbone of our team,” Lakatos said. “We’re missing Kenyon Johnson today, so that hurts a little bit, but we’re putting together some pieces, and we’re playing the hand we’re dealt today, and we’ll see where we finish here at the end.”

Prenzler and Pifer were second and third respectively in the 3,200 meters, with times of 9:18.04 and 9:43.87, while Powell and Xavier McKenney were seventh and eighth in the 110-meter hurdles, with times of 16.42 seconds and 16.62 seconds respectively. Todd Baxter was eighth in the 1,600 at 4:45.48.

In the relay races, the 4x200-meter team of Brennan Tolle, Johnson, Carson Bateman, and Brandon Battle were sixth at 1:34.15, and the 4x400-meter team of Joe Burkhart, Mason Miller, Patrick Rawson and Bateman were fifth with a time of 3:40.95.

In the field events, George Rasmussen placed fifth in the shot put with a throw of 45’ 9”, and Cameron Kirkpatrick was fifth in the discus with a toss of 136’ 9”.

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story

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