PEORIA — Highland cross country coach Doug Bradley thought Allison Zobrist might have been a little too cautious Saturday in the early going of the Class 2A girls state cross country race.
But Zobrist finished strong.
Blessed with strong final kick, Zobrist saved the best for last as she placed sixth in the 3-mile race at Detweiller Park.
Winner of a regional title two weeks ago, Zobrist finished with a time of 17 minutes, 35 seconds, exactly one minute behind champion Mailin Struck of Riverside-Brookfield, but good enough to record the best finish by a Bulldogs' runner.
"I was shooting to be in the top five. But I'll take sixth," Zobrist said. "It was a good day and I felt strong throughout the race.
"I wanted to go under 17:40 and I went 17:35, which is very good, and so I'm happy with that.''
Senior Emily Holtzclaw was the second Bulldog to finish, placing 62nd overall, as Highland took 13th in the team standings with 332 points. Yorkville won the title with 104 points.
Bradley said Zobrist has gotten bigger and stronger in the last year.
"She's grown since last year and she's stronger,'' Bradley said. "The previous-best finish by an individual at Highland was 10th in 1981. That was a long time ago.
"I'm proud of Allison. She ran a very good race today.''
Mater Dei freshman Sophia Lager placed 58th in 19:02.
In the boys race, Mascoutah freshman Noah Affolder led a trio of Mississippi Valley Conference runners to the medals' platform by placing ninth with a 15:05.
Part of one of the top brother duos in the state, along with senior Murphy Affolder, Noah broke away late, passing three runners on the final climb, to earn a top 10 finish.
Murphy Affoleder was 25th in 15:29.
"Two all-staters in one year. I'll take that every time,'' Indians coach Pat Cook said. "You maybe wouldn't notice it just to look at him, But Noah's a strong runner. Plus, he just loves to compete.''
Also finishing strong was Triad senior Ben Richter, who wrapped up his high-school career by placing 16th with a 15:17.
Led by the Affolder brothers, Mascoutah placed 20th with 432 points. Mississippi Valley Conference rival Waterloo was 18th with 423 points.
Lance Mueller led Waterloo, placing 29th. Cole Rodenberg of Waterloo was 41st.