Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Russell Gets Birthday Gift Viking Runner Tops Rival, Paces Howell to 2nd Place

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Russell Gets Birthday Gift Viking Runner Tops Rival, Paces Howell to 2nd Place

Article excerpt

Francis Howell cross country standout Derek Russell celebrated his 17th birthday on Saturday.

For weeks, Russell had something special planned for that day - to win the race at the district meet, which was on his birthday.

Russell gave himself a nice present by winning the championship at the Class 4A District 3 meet at McNair Park on Saturday.

Russell's big effort helped spark the Vikings to a second-place finish in the team standings and a berth in the sectional meet. The top four teams and 25 individuals qualified for the sectional meet at Sioux Passage Park on Saturday.

Parkway West won the team title with 48 points, followed by Howell with 68. Lafayette finished third with 109 points while St. Charles West was fourth with 120.

On his birthday, it was Russell who stole the show with a tremendous performance on the 3.1-mile course at McNair. Russell set a new course record with a time of 16 minutes and 13 seconds.

"I had been looking forward to this day for quite some time," Russell said. "I had to give myself a birthday present. I had family come in from Evansville, Ind., so I had a lot of support."

Russell shaved six seconds off the old course record of 16:19, set by Tom Breckenridge of St. Charles West at last week's Gateway Athletic Conference meet.

At the GAC meet, Russell set a furious pace in the first mile and withered down the stretch as Breckenridge took control to win the race.

On Saturday, Russell did not go out quite as fast; he let Breckenridge set the pace for most of the race. When it came to the end, Russell had plenty of juice down the stretch. Breckenridge's 2nd-place time of 16:18 was also faster than his course record last week. …

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