And it was a hard push at the end of the Boyle run.
Sanders, who did not lead until he passed Casey County's Nolan Weddle with just a half mile to go, found himself in a footrace with Weddle as they rounded the last turn headed for the finish line.
"He was right there just a few steps behind me," said Sanders. "When we crossed the last little corner, I just happened to glance back and I saw him out of the corner of my eye and I thought, 'Oh, no. This might be tough.'"
"I just ran as fast as I could to finish."
Weddle finished just five seconds off the winning pace, crossing in 17:48.
Two of the runner's Sanders passed to earn the win, Boyle's Blake Hendricks and Burgin's Bill Beckerson, who was the early leader, finished third and fourth, respectively.
Hendricks, whose team hosted the invitational, was the last runner to get picked off before Weddle.
"It's his home course and I guess he was pretty pumped up for it. After I saw him take off to the front (1-mile mark), I tried to stay back and then I started to reel him in a little bit," said Sanders. "It wasn't until about the 2-mile that I finally caught him and then, with about a half mile to go, I passed him (Weddle) and tried to get a lead before the finish."
Sanders said the Boyle win was a lot more satisfying, and comfortable, than his second-place finish in the E. G. Plummer Invitational.
"This is a lot better," he said. "I felt pretty good today because it wasn't near as hot as the last race and I knew pretty much everybody here, and, more importantly, I got my PR (personal record) for this season."
Sanders' win would be the only Lincoln victory of the meet.
After four race wins, Lincoln eighth-grader Alex Bunch saw her win streak Snapp-ed as Danville's Kaitlin Snapp, the defending Class A state cross country champion, cruised to victory.
Snapp won in a time of 19:34. Bunch was a distant second at 20:22.
And still Bunch smiled.
"Hey, I'm really happy with it," she said. "This is the race I've been wanting. I knew she'd be fast. I was just wanting to pace off her to get me a good time. That's the only thing I'm a little disappointed about — I wish my time would have been a little better."
It appeared the girl' varsity run might be a close contest as Bunch and Snapp ran side-by-side early in the race. However, that all changed after the first 1-1/2 miles.
"I ran the first mile and a half with Kaitlin Snapp and I'm pretty proud of that," Bunch said. "Then she started to pull away and she really just took off. But I expected that from Kaitlin. She's a great runner."
Lady Pat sophomore Emily Frith also finished in the girls' top 10, placing sixth out of the 56 runners in a time of 22:21.
Sanders was not the only Lincoln runner setting a PR at the Boyle Invitational. In fact, the entire boys' varsity team cut its time.
"All the way down, everybody ran their best time," said Lincoln coach John Sanders. "Eric was about 40 seconds better than his previous best, Ryne Beeding knocked off a lot of time, Matt (Lombardo) ran faster .. It was just a good day for the boys."
Beeding, a sophomore, make the biggest gain of the team, cutting a full minute off his previous best with a time of 19:22. He finished 15th out of 73 runners.
"I could tell it was a good run," Beeding said. "At the very start I could tell there would be a big difference just because it wasn't hot and I knew this course was a little easier. It's the same distance as all the other courses, but it's flatter and not as hard."
With the PR, Beeding is feeling optimistic about his running.
"I'm getting better," he said. "I can tell each race that I'm running better."
The PR times for the Patriot runners were: Ricky Foley, 20:51; Matt Lombardo, 22:14; Skyler Caudill, 22:49; and Tim Grizzell 24:58.