QUINCY -- Jacob Bryan was thinking about the last 50 meters.
As the Illini West cross country runner approached the final stretch of the of the 17th annual Running Raider Classic, he remembered last year's finish. He was battling with Pittsfield's Eli Ten Eyck before collapsing near the finish line. He got up and stumbled across the line to finish fourth.
"It creeps in your mind a little bit because it's a tough course," Bryan said. "But I knew I had my health thing down."
He didn't break stride Tuesday as he cruised to a first-place finish in 16 minutes, 12 seconds at South Park.
"I think I got the last word, or something like that," Bryan said. "I'm happy to come here and be able to finish the race this time."
Bryan collapsed last year after what was determined an iron deficiency. He spent weeks recovering and never really got back to full strength despite still making the Class 1A state meet. He used the winter to improve, and by the spring he was at full health and helped the Illini West track and field team win a state championship.
His victory in the Running Raider helped the Chargers win the team title with 113 points, edging out Bowling Green with 118.
"I told him coming in, it was him against the course," Illini West coach Ryan Bliss said. "It wasn't going to make or break his season, but it was another step to move on and prove something to himself."
He did that in dominating fashion. Bryan led the race wire-to-wire, and his lead only grew as the race progressed. He finished 29 seconds better than Monmouth-Roseville's Riley Dulin. Mark Twain's Devin Neff was third in 16:53, his personal best.
"I'm really excited because at the beginning of the season I thought I had lost it because I wasn't doing that well," Neff said. "This race has me excited to get back at it."
West Hancock's Dalton Ellingboe was sixth, and Quincy Notre Dame's Zach Haley was seventh. Both finished in 17:39. Illini West's Dalton Melvin was ninth in 17:44, and Quincy High School's Noah Fleer was 12th in 17:49.
17th annual Running Raider Classic
1. Jacob Bryan, Illini West, 16:12
2. Riley Dulin, Monmouth-Roseville, 16:41
3. Devin Neff, Mark Twain, 16:53
4. Sane Yamco, Riverton, 17:09
5. Alex Fincher, Moberly, 17:18
6. Dalton Ellingboe, West Hancock, 17:39
7. Zach Haley, Quincy Notre Dame, 17:39
8. Steven Melin, Pleasant Plains, 17:41
9. Dalton Melvin, Illini West, 17:44
10. Bryan Piper, Pittsfield, 17:48
11. Luke Wilmes, Troy, 17:49
12. Noah Fleer, Quincy High School, 17:49
13. Joel Talley, Troy, 17:53
14. Max Brandenburger, Bowling Green, 17:54
15. Josh French, Highland, 17:55
1. Illini West 113
2. Bowling Green 118
3. Macomb 136
4. Troy 139
5. Quincy High School 159
6. Kirksville 167
7. Palmyra 183
8. Quincy Notre Dame 194
9. Centralia 215
10. Monmouth-Roseville 216
11. Clark County 242
12. West Hancock 265
13. Highland 323
14. Beardstown 325
15. Unity 371
16. Marion County 397