Three Waterloo High School senior runners competed Saturday in the IHSA Class 2A state cross country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Eli Ward earned a medal by placing 12th in the boys race with a time of 15:14.09. He also medaled at the state meet last year, placing 18th.
Ward won the Mississippi Valley Conference and Highland Regional meets earlier this season before placing second at the Decatur Sectional.
“He has had a great four years of cross country and he leaves here as the second fastest cross country runner in school history,” Waterloo cross country coach Larry Huffman said.
Despite a shoe issue, Jackson McAlister managed to finish with a time of 16:31.32 at Saturday’s state meet.
“Jackson had some bad luck at state,” Huffman said. “In the first couple minutes, someone stepped on the back of his heel, which pulled his shoe halfway off. He tried to jam his foot into the front of the shoe for about a mile, but it wouldn’t stay on. So, he flicked it off and had to run the last two miles with one shoe. I’m extremely happy with his will and determination to race despite facing adversity. He’s looking forward to track season and running the 800. I’ll just make sure he ties his shoes really tight.”
In the girls race, Rachel Patterson placed 39th with a time of 18:15.95. She had the top finish of any female runner from the metro-east.
Patterson won the MVC meet and placed second at the Highland Regional before placing fourth at the Decatur Sectional.
“I can’t believe that after being a year removed from hip surgery that she fought back to be a conference champion and state qualifier,” Huffman said. “She had to do a lot of swimming, biking and physical therapy to get back to her old self.”
This the ninth straight year the WHS cross country program has qualified an individual or team for the state meet.