LANSING | Tony Rigoni suffers from asthma, so it isn't often the Munster junior is able to breathe easily throughout a cross country race.
However, during Saturday's Rich Dust Rebel Invitational at North Creek Meadow, Rigoni's asthma wasn't a problem, as he ran the three-mile race in a third-place time of 16:27.74 to help the Times No. 4 Mustangs to a winning score of 50 points, bettering second-place Illiana Christian's 70 at the meet hosted by T.F. South.
"So far, that's my best race," Rigoni said. "It was a good day, and I didn't have any breathing problems or anything like that. This was the first race that I've felt perfect the whole time."
Munster also received an eighth-place finish from Brooks Platt (16:43.42), who was followed by Steve Burgwald (16:46.51).
Munster coach Aaron Brown was pleased with the victory, but knows there is still room for team-wide improvement.
"I'm glad we came here and competed and we did well as a team," he said. "I don't think we've had a race where everybody is on yet, so I'm waiting to see that."
Illiana Christian's Matt Hall won the boys varsity race individually in 16:09.51, though he was hoping for a time in the high 15s. Coming out in a 5:08 first mile hurt Hall in the long run.
"I would have liked to go a little bit slower to start off," said Hall, a Crete resident. "I was running with the lead pack, but it happens."
On the girls side, Munster's Kyela Specht (19:29.76) came in second individually behind Oswego East's Ariel Michalek to help the Mustangs (42 points) finish second behind O.E.'s 39.
"I'm really happy. I've been in the 21s and haven't had a really good race until now," Specht said. "Mentally, I was feeling a lot better. I knew I had to have a good race, and this is where I wanted to do it."
Munster coach Michelle Duffy was ecstatic with her team's showing, especially since the Mustangs lost a ton of talent to graduation last season.
"Definitely, hands down," Duffy said about whether this was her team's best race this season. "We kind of got over some hurdles, mentally, that they haven't been able to overcome this season, and I was very happy to see that."
Dust, the father of Highland girls coach Ellie Belli, served as the official IHSA starter for all the races. He coached cross country at T.F. South for 37 years before retiring in 2006.