Collin Lillie

(Council Bluffs) -- The start to Colin Lillie's junior cross country season couldn't have gone much better.

The St. Albert runner has won three consecutive races, earned a No. 1 ranking in Class 1A by the Iowa Association of Track Coaches and took home Jim Hughes Real Estate KMAland Athlete of the Week honors in the last week.

"It's what I expected," Lillie said. "I trained pretty hard this summer. I was expecting a big season and big things.

Lillie's run of championships started at Thursday's meet in Logan, where he posted a time of 15:24.40.

"We talked going into the race that I should win it," he said. "I went out quickly and didn't see anybody go with me, so I just kept the pace and went with it."

Less than 48 hours later, Lillie won another title, this time at Iowa Western in 17:47. He completed the trifecta on Tuesday with a win at Treynor in 17:34.95.

"It was a new course," he said about his Iowa Western win. "I was feeling pretty tired, but I got out and felt good after the first mile. So I let the race take me through it."

Lillie says running two races in three days was grueling, especially early in the season.

"It was tough mentally," he said. "I was feeling a little bit, but it's nothing I hadn't trained for over the summer."

Lillie stayed busy during the summer and surrounded himself with stellar runners such as Lewis Central sophomore superstar Ethan Eichhorn and Bennett Heisterkamp, a St. Albert alum and the 2019 Hawkeye Ten Conference champion.

"We definitely pushed each other," Lillie said. "It was tough, but it made me a lot better."

Lillie leads a St. Albert team that is also off to a successful start. Coach Russ Sindelar's squad won the team titles at the Logan-Magnolia and Treynor meets and are ranked 12th in Class 1A by the IATC.

"The senior group are hard workers," Lillie said. "I think we can be a top-five team in the state. We hope to make a podium appearance at state. If we keep working hard, I think we will be alright."

Lillie's individual goals are lofty, too.

"I take it one race at a time, but I want to be top five in the state," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be in contention to win, but there's a lot of tough athletes in the 1A field. It's going to be a tough task, but it's something I want to do."

The Falcons return to action on Saturday at Iowa Western. Click below to hear the full interview with Lillie.

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