Three senior cross country members from Waterloo High School will be running at the IHSA state meet this weekend in Peoria.
At the Class 2A Decatur Sectional on Saturday, Waterloo’s Eli Ward and Jackson McAlister placed second and eighth overall, respectively, in the boys race and Rachel Patterson placed fourth in the girls race.
Ward’s finish time was 15:25. McAlister’s time was 15:51.
Patterson’s finish time was 18:40.
This is nine years in a row with a team or individual from WHS qualifying for the state cross country meet.
“I was extremely happy that these three seniors were able to qualify for state,” WHS cross country coach Larry Huffman said. “They have worked really hard for it and are deserving of their accomplishments.”
Patterson, who won the Mississippi Valley Conference meet and placed second at the Highland Regional, had her past couple of seasons cut short due to injuries.
“Just last year, Rachel was recovering from hip surgery the exact week of sectionals,” Huffman said. “For her to come back and qualify for state is amazing. She had lots of days of swimming in the pool and biking to get back to this point.”
Ward and McAlister have been among the top boys runners in the area all season. Ward placed first and McAlister placed second in both the MVC meet and the Highland Regional.
“Jackson and Eli have been pushing one another for the last four years, and it was great to see them both make it,” Huffman said.
Huffman added that the WHS boys team nearly qualified for state, placing sixth.
“The entire boys team was so close to making it, but the top five times qualify and they were the sixth team,” he said. “But, they also had a great year.”
Huffman also said freshmen runners Morgan Stratton and Joe Schwartz are two runners to keep an eye on in the next couple of years.
“I’ve been fortunate to have great kids coming through each year that are willing to work hard,” he said.