Benton High School's coed cross country team protected its home turf in a big way last week during the Mr. A Classic, named in honor of local philanthropic Gene Alexander.
Not only did the Rangers have the top individual winner in both the boys and girls races at Benton Community Park, but Benton won the boys team title, beating out its nearest competitor by 20 points.
Mason Wills was a wire-to-wire winner, taking the early lead and crossing the finish line with a time of 16:32. Three teammates finished in the top five. Joey Sample was third (16:57), Brady Gischer fourth (16:58) and Avery Potter (16:59) fifth in the race; and three other BCHS runners finished in the top 11.
Chase Owens finished eighth in 17:16, Kaden Beadle was ninth in 17:23 and Parker Sieveking finished 11th with a time of 17:48. Ethan Krieger was 18th in 18:29.
Benton won with a team total of 21. Hamilton County -- led by second place finisher Hunter Braden -- was second with 41 points. Other scores included: Pope
County 129, Fairfield 131, Anna-Jonesboro 133, Crab Orchard 146, West Frankfort 168, Belleville Althoff 181, Galatia 233 and Thompsonville 283.
McLain was not challenged in the girls' race, finishing well ahead of a Hamilton County runner. McLain's winning time was 18:41.
Teammate Hailey Wallace finished in third place with a time of 20:51 while Peyton Teiffel (21:42) and Addisyn Miller (21:50) showed improvement by placing seventh and eighth, respectively. Benton did not have a team score.
Althoff won the girls' meet with 23 points, followed by Hamilton County with 51. A-J was third with 78, followed by Fairfield (96) and West Frankfort (125).
After running in St. Louis over the weekend at the Saucony Fest, the 'Runnin Rangers will have a week off before participating in Saturday's Olney Invitational.