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Edwardsville's Watts paces the course for SWC boys title

Edwardsville's Watts paces the course for SWC boys title

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SWANSEA — Geo Patrylak knew he was starting to lose steam. 

The Edwardsville High junior didn't need his body to tell him, it was being shouted at him from just in front of him by teammate Ryan Watts. 

"That was me knowing that, 'Aw crap, I'm dead. I need to go,' " Patrylak said. "That was a painful moment in the race, but I'm so glad he was there."

Watts took home the Southwestern Conference individual title, but he did more with his voice than his leg as Edwardsville grabbed its second consecutive conference championship.

"It's awesome," Watts said. "It was definitely important to the team to get that conference title this season."

Edwardsville scored 24 team points, knocking off O'Fallon (53) and Collinsville (92). The Tigers were led by Watts' impressive 15:19.03 title run. Patrylak came in second at 15:46.49, while Ryan Luitjohan (16:03.41) and Drew Stover (16:10.74) finished fourth and fifth, respectively. 

Belleville East junior Bryan Jones (15:52.52) broke up the clean sweep for the Tigers, finishing third overall.

It was Watts' third invitational individual title, but getting the individual title wasn't part of the game plan for Saturday at Swansea Clinton Hills Conservation Park. 

"It was more of a pacing day," Watts said. "I just wanted to get a team win. The coach said the best way to get that is to help pace Geo through the two miles."

Edwardsville coach George Patrylak knew with the smaller meet, he could count on his junior to help pace the team on the course.

"Watts is at a different level than a lot of meets we go to," Patrylak said. "They do try to feed off each other. They look for each other and feed off each other and keep each other accountable."

After the mile and a half marker, when Watts turned over his shoulder, he noticed Geo Patrylak falling off his pace. Despite pushing the pace as hard as he could, he still had enough in his lungs to give a shout of encouragement to his fellow Tiger.

"I was feeling good today," Watts said.

That shout helped Patrylak to push through that mental wall his body was starting to build.

"I think it's great honestly to show that you're teammates are out there for you," Patrylak said. "They want you to do your best."

While it's the second consecutive conference championship and third title in the last four years, coach George Patrylak isn't getting comfortable just yet.

"This conference is a roller coaster, we're up on the boys side, but you see what O'Fallon and Collinsville has coming," Patrylak said. 

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