OK, school records for everyone.
That was the theme for area runners and teams Saturday at the IHSA Cross Country State Meet in Peoria. There were no state champions from the area as there had been in four of the previous six years, but several local runners turned in the best state performances in their school’s history.
Marengo senior Katie Adams, who was undefeated until Saturday, could have made it four Class 2A champions in a row for McHenry County, following Woodstock’s Kayla Beattie (2009, 2010) and Crystal Lake Central’s Sami Staples (2011). But Adams rolled her right ankle early in the race and battled through the pain to take ninth.
Watching Adams limp around later with help from her parents or teammates, it was remarkable that she ran that well. She had beaten Kaneland’s Victoria Clinton, the 2A champion, by 15 seconds at the Belvidere Sectional.
“It’s just hard,” Adams said. “I could have been up there competing for it.”
Marengo finished two points behind Montini and Glenbard South, so if Adams had been
fine the Indians probably would have had their first team trophy.
Crystal Lake Central’s Alex Baker was closest to a state championship, taking second in the Class 2A boys race and helping his team to fourth place. And what was Baker’s best memory of the season?
“Practicing every day and the hard workouts and long mileage,” he said. “Even more than the running and races, it was hanging out with the guys. I’ll remember those moments even more than placing at state.”
Baker’s race with Glenbard South’s John Wold was terrific. Those two ran by themselves for most of the final mile before Wold broke away in the final 400 meters.
Central coach Bill Eschman just grinned when asked about Baker’s finish, the best in Central’s school history.
“It was fantastic. It was fun to watch,” Eschman said. “He pushed the pace, but Wold just ran a better race today. You couldn’t ask for a better guy on your team.”
There were other great performances from Staples, Marengo’s Kitty Allen, Jacobs’ Lauren Van Vlierbergen, Cary-Grove’s Talia Duzey, Prairie Ridge’s Joe Cowlin, McHenry’s Jesse Reiser and Richmond-Burton’s boys team.
Staples ran with Clinton most of the way before finishing fourth.
Allen, a sophomore, had a solid season capped with her best runs at the sectional and state meets. She finished 16th for Class 2A All-State honors. Woodstock’s Maura Beattie also earned All-State taking 17th.
“it was pretty intense,” Allen said. “It was an awesome experience coming from last year and watching it to this year and running in it. My last races have been really good.”
Van Vlierbergen battled through a stress reaction in her left foot (the precursor to a stress fracture) for the last month and trained mostly in a swimming pool. Then she placed seventh in the fastest girls state meet race in history.
Duzey’s 25th-place finish earned her All-State status and was C-G’s best girls finish ever.
Cowlin was thrilled as he crossed the finish line in fourth place in Class 2A, the best state cross country finish in Prairie Ridge’s history.
“No. 2 [Baker] and 4 for the [Fox Valley] conference,” Cowlin said to his teammates, “that’s right!”
Reiser, a sophomore, was as cool as they come all season, running right behind Baker and Cowlin in some of the big area races. Reiser was just as undaunted at Peoria’s Detweiller Park on Saturday as he took seventh place, the best Warriors’ finish ever.
In Class 1A, R-B and Johnsburg both took their boys and girls teams. Junior James Kaht really picked it up in the final 800 meters to take 19th and lead R-B’s boys to a fifth-place team finish, its best ever.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.