After turning in the best season of his high school cross country career this fall, Cassius Havis is already excited for 2018.
“I want to get first-team all-conference, make it to state and get first team all-regional,” the Alton sophomore said.
Havis was the Redbirds’ top runner for most of the season, getting 6 top-10 finishes and finishing under 16 minutes three times. The strong sophomore season earned Havis this year’s Riverbend AdVantage News Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year award.
Last year, Havis was part of an Alton boys cross country team that won the Alton Invitational and qualified for sectionals. His highest finish was 13th at the Alton Invitational and his best time was a 16:57 at the Madison County meet.
Alton coach Vernon Curvey said he was amazed by the way Havis improved from his freshman year.
“He was performing great,” Curvey said. “As a sophomore, he has done really well. He has improved throughout the season, put in a great summer and we’ll just see how he does again next year.”
Havis’ sophomore season got off to a good start, placing 25th with a 15:55.3 at the Granite City Invitational on Sept. 2. He broke 16 minutes for the first time and earned a medal.
“It gave me a huge boost,” Havis said. “It’s the first time I broke 16. Placing up there was pretty good.”
Havis also finished third in the Alton Invitational, fifth in the Belleville West Invitational, had sixth-place finishes in the Madison County meet, Class 3A Belleville West Regional and Edwardsville Invitational and came in eighth in the Southwestern Conference meet.
A year ago, Havis didn’t get any top-10 finishes.
“It was pretty fun,” Havis said. “Last year, I was nowhere near getting top 10 in any races at all. It gave me a huge boost getting in the top 10 almost every time and getting a medal.”
Havis ran a personal-best time of 15:50 at the Peoria High Invitational at Detweiller Park. He finished 75th in the race after placing 198th last year.
“That was a pretty good course,” Havis said. “There was a lot of good competition up there. It pushed me a lot.”
Havis earned second-team all-conference honors with his eighth-place finish Oct. 13 at the SWC meet. A year ago, he came up five places short of getting all-conference honors.
“I had no idea I was going to do it this year,” Havis said. “I was going for third team. When second team happened, I was happy and so excited.”
Havis qualified for sectionals after placing sixth with a 15:56 in the Belleville West Regional, coming up one place short of getting a medal.
“Our regional was pretty hard and there were a lot of good people there, but I’ll take a top 10 any day, especially in our regional,” Havis said.
Havis’ season ended with a 65th-place finish at the Class 3A Granite City Sectional on Oct. 28. Havis and senior Kelvin Cummings were the Redbirds’ lone sectional qualifiers.
Havis credits Cummings for his outstanding sophomore season.
“Kelvin is a great teammate,” he said. “He pushed me a lot. Without him, I probably wouldn’t be doing any of this. He got me up during the summer to run with him.”
Havis started competing in cross country when he was in seventh grade at Alton Middle School.
“Back in middle school, I tried basketball and it wasn’t working out,” he said. “I tried out running and now I love it.”
Havis also competes in track. Last spring, he competed in the 3,200-meter relay at the Class 3A state meet.
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