For the first time in school history, the Waterloo High School cross country program will send both girls and boys teams to the IHSA Class 2A state meet in Peoria in the same season.
The WHS girls team won Saturday’s Decatur Sectional for the second straight year, led by a first place finish from all-state junior Jenna Schwartz and a fifth place effort from Ella King.
The WHS boys team placed third in Decatur on Saturday, also qualifying for next week’s state meet. The Bulldogs were led by Eli Ward, who placed 17th overall.
“I am very proud of both teams,” WHS cross country coach Larry Huffman said. “Our goal at the beginning of the season was to get both teams to state, and we accomplished that.”
Schwartz won her second straight sectional race with a time of 17:20. She was followed by King in fifth place at 18:21, Sydney Haddick in 12th place at 18:55, Rachel Patterson in 37th place at 19:49, Colleen Sliment in 39th place at 19:50, Emma Rick in 43rd place at 19:54 and Laurin Lunk in 62nd place at 20:28.
“Even though Rachel Patterson was battling an injury, she fought through it and was our No. 4 runner,” Huffman said. “Jenna, Ella, and Sydney did a great job up front, and Colleen was a strong No. 5.”
Schwartz led the Bulldogs to the regional title at Alhambra on Oct. 21 with a course record time of 17:41.21. She placed sixth at the IHSA state meet in Peoria last year, leading the WHS girls to a 13th place state finish.
Earlier this month, the WHS boys team won the Mississippi Valley Conference Championships at Principia College, with the girls placing second. Bulldog runners Adam Robson and Schwartz won individual MVC titles.
The WHS boys team, which placed second at the regional to advance, ran as a pack at Decatur, with Ward in 17th place at 15:41, Robson in 18th place at 15:44, and Jackson McAlister in 20th place at 15:50.
Cayden Kirkham, David Lunk, Matt Dawson and Sam Kreinberg finished in 26th, 44th, 95th and 97th place, respectively.
“We did a great job running as a pack,” Huffman said. “Our front three of Eli, Adam, and Jackson worked really well together. Cayden really stepped up and had a great race also. Matt Dawson did a great job as our sixth runner, because he broke the third place tie by beating Marion’s No. 6 runner.”
CHS boys make state
In the Class 1A cross country sectional at Benton on Saturday, the Columbia High School boys team placed third overall to advance to this weekend’s state meet in Peoria.
The Eagles brought a pack mentality into their sectional race, and it also paid off.
Eli King placed 20th at 15:53, followed by Ethan Sturm in 21st place at 15:54 and Joshua Foster in 22nd place at 15:55. Tristan Oestreich placed 39th with a time of 16:15. Curtis Crossley placed 43rd for Columbia.
Gibault runners Elgin Scherff and Liam Brauer also competed in the Class 1A sectional, but neither advanced to state. Scherff placed 31st at 16:08; Brauer placed 33rd at 16:09.
Hawks freshman advances
Gibault freshman Brooke Biffar continued her amazing first high school cross country season by placing fifth overall at Benton to advance to state.
Biffar ran a sectional time of 18:33, which was just one minute off the first place time.
Biffar has taken the area cross country scene by storm this fall, winning the Sparta and Marissa invitationals and placing eighth out of 300 runners at Edwardsville earlier this season.
She ran to a second place finish in her first high school race at New Athens in early September.
The state cross country meet takes place at Detweiller Park in Peoria.