Altamont’s Grace Nelson comes down the chute to the finish line during the 2021 Bulldog XC Invitational in Effingham Saturday morning. Nelson finished fifth.

Altamont sophomore Grace Nelson tried to keep pace with a dominant Mt. Zion team that saw the Braves place seven of their ten runners in the top 10 during the Bulldog XC Invitational Saturday morning at Sacred Heart Elementary School.

Nelson held her own for the first mile but fell off as Mt. Zion’s Sofia Munoz pulled away.

The first-year runner finished fifth with a time of 20:24.16, less than eight seconds off the winning time of 19:56.64 by Munoz.

“I think I did good compared to the last race,” Nelson said. “I just tried to stay with the lead pack as much as I could.”

Nelson said she tried to keep every runner as close as possible even though the start was fast.

“I just tried to keep them as close as I could,” she said. “They started pretty fast. I had to change my pace a little to stay with them.”

Nelson added that she believes she would have placed better if her endurance had been better, too.

However, the biggest battle for Nelson was fighting herself.

“I have to tell myself that I can do it and stick with the leader,” she said. “I can’t let myself back off, and I won’t be able to catch them if I do.”

As for other local runners, Effingham freshman Jessica Larson finished seventh with a time of 20:23.56.

Effingham finished third with three top 25 finishes from Larson, junior Kayleigh Koester in 16th with a time of 21:34.21, and freshman Haddie Hill in 25th with a time of 22:08.31.

On the boys’ side, St. Anthony’s Griffen Elder finished fifth 17:13.28, followed by Effingham’s Andrew Donaldson in seventh with a time of 17:21.98.

Effingham finished fifth, buoyed by top 25 finishes by Donaldson, sophomore Garrett Wagoner in 12th with a time of 18:04.14, and freshman Adam Flack in 16th with a time of 18:24.80.

St. Anthony followed sixth with top 25 finishes from Elder, junior Conlan Walsh in 14th with a time of 18:18.07, and Aidan Braunecker in 19th with a time of 18:39.48.

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