Third place.

That’s where the Pekin boys and girls cross country teams each finished Saturday in the 45th annual Canton Invitational at Big Creek Park.

Defending individual champ Wyatt McIntyre led Athens to the boys team title with a winning time of 15:19.1. Athens scored 49 points.

Elmwood/Brimfield (55) finished second and Pekin (60) was third in a 10-team field thanks in large part to second- and third-place finishes by Brody Blackwell (15:48.6) and Kolton Dunkelbarger (16:15.7).

Andrew Wolfe (18th, 17:20.3), Bennett Custer (19th, 17:22.9) and Seth Kasinger (21st, 17:25.9) also scored for Pekin. Jayden Tabb (28th, 17:49.4) and Ian Sayles (81st, 22:18.1) completed the Dragons’ lineup.

Medals went to the top 20 individual finishers, so Pekin had four medal-winners in the boys race.

“I was really pleased with the way we ran,” said Pekin boys coach Cole Stoner. “Big Creek Park offers a lot of challenges to cross country runners, and our guys handled them well.

“Brody (Blackwell) had a great performance — a sub-16 time on that course is no joke — and Dunk, Andrew, Bennett, Seth and Jayden showed up strong in Week 1 after a great off-season.”

Canton captured the girls team title by putting four runners in the top 11. The Little Giants finished with 50 points, out-running runner-up Peoria Notre Dame (62) and third-place Pekin (77) in a 10-team field.

Three Pekin girls won individual medals: Paige Arseneau (3rd, 19:22), Alex Bassen (4th, 19:40) and Madison Vicary (18th, 21:28).

“All three beat their goal time,” said Pekin girls coach Erika Gilmore. “Paige had never gone below 20 minutes on that course and she blew that time out of the water. Hopefully this sets her up for the season. It was great seeing Alex finish right behind her.”

Macomb’s Maya Stovall edged Limestone’s Jenna Mirande by just five-hundredths of a second to win the girls individual title. Stovall finished in 19:16.6 to Mirande’s 19:17.1.

Claire Wheelwright led Canton with a sixth-place finish. Eleanor Fournier followed in eighth, Haley Woodcock in 10th and Elyse Mathews in 12th for the Little Giants.

Deer Creek-Mackinaw was fourth in the boys race with 109 points.

The Chiefs’ Gary Cates (10th, 16:46.1), John Carnicle (12th, 16:56.6) and Neal Scheuremann (13th, 16:58.2) won medals.

Pekin’s frosh/soph girls team finished first. Jayvian Riley (2nd, 22:08), Alex Lane (3rd, 22:31), Jessica Vandyke (4th, 22:31), Melina Hall (8th, 23:10) and Remi Wagemann (10th, 23:47) won medals.

“I asked our frosh/soph girls to run in a pack and they nailed it,” Gilmore said.


Peoria Journal Star contributed to this report. Steve Stein can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.