PEORIA – It was an impressive day across the board for Joliet area runners at the IHSA Cross Country State Finals Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria, as they battled through rain, cold weather, wind and a muddy course to place favorably – and in several cases – earn all-state honors in the 2022 season’s final meet.
Nine runners from five different local teams earned the distinction of all-state on Saturday.
In the 1A girls race, Seneca’s Evelyn O’Connor was first to take home the honor, clocking an 18:07.13 for 12th place.
“I’m really happy with what I did, because I thought I was going to be right on the edge of 25, so I’m just really happy to get where I got,” O’Connor said. “I liked [the tough conditions]. It was a little hard at the end going up that straightaway with the wind in my face, but other than that, I think this weather was really nice to run in today.”
The Seneca girls placed 25th out of 30 teams with 577 points. Gracie Steffes came in 173rd with a 21:23.18, Natalie Misener took 181st with a 21:31.91, and Keeli Pumphrey nabbed 199th with a 21:56.29. Ashley Alsvig secured 217th with a 22:31.24, Ruthie Steffes nabbed 238th with a 23:27.58, and Lily Mueller finished 244th with a 24:02.95.
Austin Aldridge ran a 16:55.83 for 80th as the lone Seneca boy.
In the 3A boys race – the final race of the day – six locals earned the all-state distinction.
Plainfield North’s Oliver Burns blazed to a 15:00.81 for fifth, Plainfield South’s Camyn Viger clocked a 15:09.81 for 11th, Plainfield South’s Dylan Maloney ran a 15:18.16 for 16th, and Minooka’s Zachary Balzer ran a 15:21.36 for 18th.
Plainfield South’s BJ Sorg and Ethan Reynoso came in 22nd and 25th, clocking times of 15:23.07 and 15:26.47.
“It was all right. I knew I was going to be placing in that top group for sure going into it, but once I figured out that the course was muddy and everything, it could be my shot to maybe win the state title,” Burns said. “So going into this, I was just kind of thinking whatever happens, happens.”
Although the weather and course conditions were a detriment to some of the runners, Burns was mostly unfazed.
“I would say that these are some of my favorite conditions. I really love running in the rain, and the mud and the cold,” he said. “I feel like I did relatively well with it today, just with the competition and everything. It just felt way harder than what I normally think.”
The Plainfield South boys were team champions, accumulating 88 points to edge runner-up Hinsdale Central’s 89. The Cougars got a 35th-place finish from Owen O’Shea (15:39.42), a 92nd from Jack Wright (16:05.56) and a 129th from Gavin Borger (16:21.23).
The Plainfield North boys finished fourth, totaling 215 points.
Owen Stahl came in 34th with a 15:38.53, Quinn Davis took 64th with a 15:53.02, and Thomas Czerwinski came in 81st with a 16:02.18; Easton Miller nabbed 87th with a 16:04.11, Ryan Tracey clocked a 16:2314 for 138th, and Aidan Conners came in 212th with a 17:01.62 for the Tigers.
In the 2A girls race, Morris standouts Joy Dudley and Makensi Martin finished 14th and 21st. Dudley crossed the finish line at 18:21.76, while Martin came across at 18:49.78.
Also competing for Morris were Jadyn Bertram (19:57.32, 90th), Danica Martin (20:33, 139th), Paityn Valentine (22:06.66, 211th), Moriah Mayberry (22:19.12, 215th) and Leah Ortiz (22:29.64, 218th).
The Morris girls finished 14th out of 28 teams with 371 points.
As the lone Morris boy competing, Kaden Welch nabbed a 30th-place finish, running a 16:16.88.
Ella McCollom led the Minooka girls in the 3A race, running an 18:30.63 for 34th; Gabrielle Kics recorded an 18:31.57 for 37th, and Maya Ledesma clocked an 18:49.19 for 54th as the second- and third-best Indian runners. Caprice Rodely nabbed 84th with a 19:08.74, Taya Gummerson took 100th with a 19:19.82, Kylie Meyers finished 112th with a 19:23.95, and Cassie Burshaber secured 154th with a 19:54.36.
Minooka came in fourth out of 28 teams with 236 points. Prospect was first with 39 points, York was second with 58, and Naperville North was third with 229.
The Plainfield North girls took 28th out of 28 teams with 716 points. Elsie Czarniewski led the way with a 19:25.56 for 113th, Tessa Russo ran a 20:09.91 for 175th, and Claire Wilson chipped in a 20:33.07 for 193rd. Kaitlyn Ward ran a 20:45.92 for 206th, Nora Rudakas clocked a 21:15.19 for 215th, Ella Powell ran a 21:53.30 for 223rd, and Emaan Hussain recorded a 22:06.27 for 229th.
As the lone Romeoville runner, Sophia Flowers ran a 19:14.59 for 91st.