Date: September 8, 2018
Location: Detweiller Park; Peoria, IL
Time: Girls- 10:20a, Boys- 11a
2A Boys: #4 Danville, #5 Troy (Triad), #6 Washington, #7 Metamora, #9 Kaneland, #10 Dixon, #12 Burlington Central, #17 Rockford (Christian), #18 Dunlap, #19 Mt. Zion, #20 Champaign Centennial, #22 Sterling, #25 Antioch
2A Girls: #1 Belvidere North, #2 Vernon Hills, #3 Lake Villa (Lakes), #6 Mahomet-Seymour, #7 Dunlap, #8 Dixon, #11 Washington, #12 Riverside-Brookfield, #14 Lemont, #17 Highland, #19 Morton, #20 Canton, #21 Normal (University), #22 Burlington Central, #24 Chicago (Latin)
By the time the second round of races begins, the course should be in horrible shape. All reports have indicated heavy rain followed by flash flood warnings all over central Illinois.
The girls will feature the top three teams in the state meeting for the first time this season. Belvidere North is coming off of a second place finish in the 2017 state championship. The Blue Thunder return six of their top seven led by junior Madison Diercks. The multi-talented Diercks happens to be the defending champion. She is not alone in the power stroke position as teammate and fellow junior Gianna Sagona will be a great compliment. This team has a deceptively high scoring split because of the front-runners. Watch for Vernon Hills to go to their strength which is pack running. The Cougars used a 30-second split to earn a third-place finish here last year. Lakes is a team that could surprise if all seven runners remain composed and intact. The Eagles have two runners in Brooke Stromsland and Olivia Schmitt. They are better than the 30s they landed in last year. They are both bonafide top 10 performers when on point. Overall, the wide-open field could see a number of teams push for the top 5-10 spot. Defending champion Dunlap graduated a ton of athletes but they will hard to the end.
Individually, it could be all senior Jenna Schwartz of Waterloo. The defending state champion will be running her first race of the season. Schwartz sat out of the Granite City Invite last weekend due to an illness. The course may be a bit slowed by mud or sloppy conditions. So a tactical affair could allow several prospects to challenge Schwartz. Diercks should get more respect in that she won last year as mentioned before. Latin has two outstanding distance runners in sophomore Marianne Mihas and freshman Ava Parekh.
The boy's race is up for grabs as six teams ranked in the top 10 seek their first major win of the season. For starters, Danville placed 5th in last weekend's Charleston Invite. The word is the Vikings used the meet as a tune-up. The same could be said for #5 Triad who ran without their top lineup at the Granite City Invite last weekend. Washington hasn't competed since August 25 at the Normal West Invite. In that meet, they placed behind Dunlap. But now if everything being virtually even in terms of the playing field, the imposters will get weeded out. Normal University won last year, but they also graduated key members of their name. They may use this meet more as a developing tool and fall behind the likes of Metamora and Kaneland who expect to run their best.
Last year's race was stacked with the likes of Matthew Richtman, Austin Ohm, and Nick Oakley of Charleston just to name a few, but they all graduated. 11 of the top 15 runners last year were seniors, so this race will be an interesting one. Junior Adam Gilbreath-Glaub of Metamora is the favorite. Although his season debut was postponed last weekend due to weather, he won the 2A 3200m final last year as a sophomore and looks to carry over his success to this year's cross season. Another top contender for this race is senior Riley Wells of Rockford Christian. The Royals moved up to 2A this year and is considered a very solid team. Wells was a two-time 1A state champion in the 800m and placed 5th at the 1A cross-country state meet last year. While this race might not the depth of past years, emerging talent will come to the forefront.