Nygia Pollard (on the left) could develop into a championship runner this spring (Dan Chamness photo)
2017 State Champion: Anna Sophia Keller (Effingham St. Anthony) 10:36.64
Key returners: Katelyn Robbins, Haley Weidner, Caroline Jachino, Nygia Pollard, Anna Heffren, Ailey Mitchell
Outlook: For the first time in five years there is going to be a new distance queen. On paper it appears to be a mystery as to who might that be. Cross Country champion Emma Argo from Eureka would have been the logical choice as the first replacement, but she will compete at the 2A level for track & field. Nygia Pollard was running lock step with Argo in that state harrier title match until the final 600m where she ran completely out of gas and finished a disappointing 24th. The talent is there when you consider that she splits time with basketball season and other school activities like musical plays. In addition, Pollard foreshadowed what possibly could happen if she is challenged and focused. She burned the "slow section" 3200m state championship field by 22 seconds to place 7th overall. We may see her on top fighting against the best returners. Haley Weidner, Caroline Jachino, and Ailey Mitchell. Mitchell's patience at Detweiller allowed to close well and snag the runner up finish behind Argo.
If the cross country season is any indication of what is to come, there is no guarantee that some top returners will be granted instant access to stardom. There were only three seniors among the top 25 placers. Within that lot was 17 frosh runners.
Top returning performances:
Liberty High School
Bureau Valley High School
Pleasant Plains High School
Harvest Christian Academy
Lewistown High School
The half-mile field should once again be one to watch (Dan Chamness photo)
2017 State Champion: Arielle Summitt (Urbana University) 2:13.17
Key returners: Summitt, Marguerite Hendrickson, Delanie Dykes, Lexy Henrikson, Katie Springer
Outlook: It should be another banner year for event as 8 state finalists return including the two-time defending champion Arielle Summitt along with 3 of the top 4 runners. Let's make things clear though. Summitt is a premier athlete who actually qualified for the 2018 World Youth Triathlon Championships. With the added endurance and strength to go along with her 58-second 400m speed. Summitt endured a successful and healthy cross country season where she placed 9th. Ultimately the goal to win a third state title and chase after the great Tri-Valley Down Stephanie Brown's 2:09.12 class meet record... Katie Springer is a relative unknown despite placing 3rd in state. This is will be an opportunity to take her talent the next level. She broke 2:20 at the end of season making her peak right on time. Marguerite Hendrickson
Top returning performances: