Three Sisters Park on the surface looks like your typical vast landmass until you actually take the quarter-mile drive deep into the heart of the 500+ acre spread. But it was a Thursday evening and Anna Perry was physically and mentally preparing herself on the unknown digs. Although the standout Eureka junior lives just 20 minutes away, she had never been on the rugged layout.
On race day, it was all business as the final flight under the Shazam Championships Division 1 club status (Class A) was underway. Perry, Lianna Surtz (Aurora Rosary), Mabry Bruhn (Monticello), and several others were among the lot that trekked past flocks of separated fans and into a backwoods scenic area. Out there it was an opportunity set one apart from the rest. Perry, Surtz, and Bruhn hit the first mile in 5:45 and later stretched themselves their lead over the pursuers to 15 seconds in a short span.
Perry tried several times prior to the second mile to surge away from Surtz and Bruhn. They were not deterred, later moving into the wooded area of the course for the first time, the trio passed the second mile in 11:43. Perry, who is a cousin of the legendary Craig Virgin, exhibited some of the same tough qualities during the hardest part of the course- the third mile. It was the woods that determined the outcome for these stallions.
The turns and inclines were enough to bring Perry into a commanding position with just a half-mile remaining. It was all sunshine ahead of her as she steamed home ahead of the deepest field of this season in 18:11. Last year's state champion Surtz did not have the extra gear to corral in Perry had to settle for second in 18:17. Mabry's return to excellence pitted her in third with a solid 18:21. It was a surprise but at the same time a sensational fourth placement by Hailey Heiar (East Dubuque HS) who fought to earn the 18:43 clocking.
There was not much debate about who was the top team coming in. The Winnebago Warriors XC (Winnebago HS) just needed to defend their honor and slate. They won flight one behind Renee Rittmeyer and Sophia Martino who clocked 20:19 and 20:47 respectively. Next were Kaylee Woolery and Katie Erb taking 1-2 in flight two with 19:47 and 20:13 times. It did not stop there. In flight three, Grace Erb and Marissa Roggensack had to fight a bit harder. The two teammates sat in first and third for the majority of the race. Erb won in 19:14 and Roggensack grabbed second by digging deep with 50 meters to overtake Estella Miller of Monticello and clock 19:25.
The final nail in the coffin was the ace Natalia Martino. She remained calm and held back somewhat in the final flight four. All she had to do was complete the tour and finish. She took eighth in 19:11 and the tears of joy began for her and the crew. The 43 points seemed much lower than it was- total domination over a very good field.
Winnebago High School
1:02 1-5 Split | 19:34 Avg
Rosary High School
2:41 1-5 Split | 20:13 Avg
Elmhurst (IC Catholic)
2:16 1-5 Split | 20:33 Avg
1:06 1-5 Split | 21:24 Avg