The Waterloo High School girls cross country team entered Saturday’s Class 2A Decatur Sectional with high hopes of advancing to state.
But the team exceeded even its own lofty expectations by coming home with the sectional championship. Waterloo finished with 131 points, which was eight points better than second-place Urbana.
Waterloo was led by sophomore Jenna Schwartz, who won the sectional race with a time of 17:36, breaking her own school record. She placed 24th at the state meet as a freshman last season.
“Jenna did a wonderful job up front,” Waterloo cross country coach Larry Huffman said.
Joining Schwartz on the state bound team are fellow sophomore Ella King, who placed 15th at the sectional at 19:18; freshman Sydney Haddick, who placed 27th at 19:45; freshman Colleen Sliment, who placed 41st at 20:03; and senior Libby Price, who placed 47th at 20:10.
“The major key to us winning was the performances of our fourth and fifth runners, Colleen Sliment and Libby Price,” Huffman said. “They ran gutsy races to round out our scoring.”
Schwartz will make a return trip to the state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria this weekend, but this time the entire team is joining her.
“It was a pleasant surprise to see them win the sectional championship,” Huffman said. “They beat a few teams that have been beating them the entire season.
“They really deserve all of their accomplishments,” Huffman added. “They put in a ton of hard work, and now they get to showcase their abilities against the state’s best runners in Peoria (this) weekend.”
The WHS girls cross country team last advanced to the state meet in 2007.