Highland sophomore Sam Hengehold did not win her third consecutive race but she did the next best thing as she crossed the finish line with a strong second-place effort for the second year in a row at the Mississippi Valley Conference Championships held Thursday at Principia College in Elsah.
Hengehold traveled the 2.9-mile course in an impressive 18 minutes, 30 seconds, which covered third-place Waterloo senior Sydney Haddick by nine seconds.
However, Hengehold’s runner-up time was 1:10 behind Waterloo junior Jenna Schwartz, who repeated as the conference’s individual champion with an outstanding time of 17:20. Schwartz finished sixth at the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Cross Country Meet in Peoria last year and should be among the challengers vying to be the 2A state champion on Saturday, Nov. 4.
“Sam Hengehold finished second for the second year in row,” Highland coach Doug Bradley said. “She’s won her last two races but the goal that we set for today was for a second-place finish. She started relaxed and ran nearly event splits to reel in all of the competitors except one. Sam is running really well right now and her confidence is up. She will be a force in the postseason.”
Freshman Jessica Borror was once again Highland’s No. 2 runner and she garnered the sixth-place medal with a noteworthy time of 19:11, which was just one second behind Triad junior Ella King for fifth place.
“Jessica Borror ran a smart race and made all-conference as a freshman,” Bradley said. “She is a terrific talent and is still learning. Today she put herself in position to finish in the top five. She just didn’t have enough gas in the tank at the end and she ended up one second from fifth place.”
Bradley said the problem for the Lady Bulldogs was that the gap between Jessica and the team’s next finishers was simply too big for the team to make any noise in this meet.
Highland finished fourth as a team with a final score of 77 points. Triad won the team title with a winning score of 40 points. Waterloo finished just four points behind with 44 and Mascoutah wound up third at 66.
Highland (77) was fourth, and rounding out the conference field were Civic Memorial (146) and Jerseyville (165).
“With Waterloo resting their number 2 runner, the door was open for Triad, Mascoutah, or us to pull off something special but those schools appeared to have more interest in making that happen today,” Bradley said. “Triad ran extremely well and they went off and left us right at the start of the race. If a team wants to win this thing, they need to put five girls in the top 15. Triad got into the top 15 at the start and stayed there.”
The Knights actually had all five scoring runners place in the top 12, paced by freshman Alyssa Kowalski’s fourth-place effort (18:50).
Triad also received seventh place from senior Maddie Keller (19:19), eighth place from freshman Sydney Hartoin (19:21), ninth place from senior Madi Walter (19:21) and 12th place from sophomore Alyssa Postma (19:36).
Next up is the IHSA Class 2A Highland Regional at Alhambra Township on Saturday, Oct. 21. The girls race is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. with the boys to follow at 10:45.