Cross country runners race toward state

Waterloo High School boys cross country runners finished in first place in the New Athens Regional last weekend. Their next stop is sectionals in Decatur. (submitted photo)

The cross country season has wrapped up and area runners are racing through the postseason.

Both the Waterloo boys and girls teams advanced to sectionals, with the boys taking first place in the Highland Regional and the girls coming in sixth.

“(This) is our first year to win a regional title on the boys side. The team’s success comes from a huge amount of dedication and motivation starting back in June when they were (running) many miles in the summer months,” said head coach Larry Huffman. “They have improved greatly in the last few years as they have matured, and that success is showing now.”

Sectionals are this Saturday, with the state tourney following on Nov. 9.

“At sectionals the girls are looking to have their best times of the season and compete with some of the best schools in central and southern Illinois,” Huffman said. “On the boys side, we are in the hunt for a qualification into the IHSA state cross country championships. The top five teams at sectionals qualify for the state meet, and we are sitting really close to that elite group.”

Waterloo will travel to Decatur to run at Hickory Point Golf Course this Saturday. The state race will be at Detweiller Park in Peoria.

At last weekend’s New Athens Regional, the Columbia boys team as well as Ashley Myers and Emily Eckert from the girls team advanced to sectionals.

Waterloo’s Jessica Chapman approaches the finish line at a meet earlier this season. (Robyn Dexter photo)

“If we go about things like we know how and we are trained to do, we can advance.  We have a good group of dedicated kids, so the odds are in our favor as far as I am concerned,” head coach Ernie Kopp said.

The young Columbia runners have been turning heads all season with their character and poise, according to Kopp.

“The Columbia boys team is still young; it contains five sophomores and two seniors.  A team with a make-up like that is usually not a formula for advancing into sectionals, but they have come together as a team, and have been dedicated to their goals,” Kopp said.

“The girls will advance Ashley Myers, a junior, and Emily Eckert, a freshman.”

The Edwardsville Sectional takes place on the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus this Saturday.

“Columbia is a strong team and we take advantage of the many hills around us,” Kopp said. “Edwardsville is a hilly course and we always run well on the SIUE course, so we will be looking to lean on our training.”

Even though the cross country program at Dupo High School is in its first year, its runners are enjoying success that puts them on par with much more established teams.

“We have so many kids who were really interested in cross country and they have worked really hard to catch up to other teams and runners who have been competing longer than us,” said head coach Kevin Acra.

The girls team, as well as boys runners Danny Riefle and Robby Cunningham, advanced out of the New Athens Regional.

“(Freshman) Kailey Heusohn has steadily improved and finished 18th at conference and has been at the top of our team,” Acra said. “Boys (runners) Riefle and Cunningham have been our top two runners followed closely by Evan Schmidt,” Acra said.

Columbia runner Kristian Avise-Rouse leads the pack of run- ners at a meet earlier this year at Columbia High School. (Robyn Dexter photo)

Success at sectionals will come down to the runners remaining competitive and giving their all, according to Acra. And while he said he’ll be “pleasantly surprised and excited” if any of his runners make it out of sectional, he sees a bright future for his team.

“(Our goals are) to be able to train and prepare for a season and increase our numbers and success will follow with hard work and great kids,” he said.

Valmeyer senior runner Morgan Redohl advanced as an individual out of the Chester Regional.

“I contribute Morgan’s success to her drive, competitiveness and determination,” said head coach Amber Stewart. “Morgan runs with a purpose in mind, not just running to run.”

Redohl’s personal goal for the season was to  advance to the state finals and run her best time yet. And even as she kept up with a hectic fall schedule playing varsity volleyball, Redohl medaled at every tourney she ran this season and was named to the all-conference team.

“Success this weekend will come in the form of place and time for Morgan,” Stewart said. “She couldn’t be more prepared — we’ve been working on pace-work and hills due to the SIUE course and I feel that she’s ready.”

And although Redohl graduates this year, her legacy will continue to inspire Valmeyer runners for years to come.

“We call ourselves family, and everyone on the team looks to Morgan for advice,” Stewart said. “Not only does she push herself, but she pushes her teammates to be the best they can be.”

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Andrea F.D. Saathoff

Andrea is a graduate of Gibault High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Education. She lives in Columbia with her husband and their twin toddler sons. When she isn't cheering on St. Louis Cardinals baseball or riding the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Tigers football, she enjoys attending and participating in the many family events the county has to offer. email:
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