Highland High boys cross country coach Doug Bradley was pleased with the progress the Bulldogs made at the First to the Finish Invitational Saturday at Peoria’s Detweiller Park, which is the site of the state cross country meet for all three IHSA classifications.
The Bulldogs finished 57th out of 60 competing teams, but Highland’s veteran coach was happy with the improved times posted by his runners.
“Last week at Granite City we only had two boys under 19 minutes and that just wasn’t acceptable,” Bradley said. “We really challenged the boys this week to bring those times down and they did. They had five guys under 19 and nearly had seven. It was a huge step forward. The boys are young and it’s really critical that we keep improving.”
Junior Brock Schrage paced Highland with a 379th-place finish out of 919 overall runners in the varsity boys race with a 3-mile time of 18 minutes, 14 seconds.
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“Brock Schrage has worked hard to improve his running and today he hit an all-time personal record,” Bradley said. “I’m really happy for him. I’m hoping he can keep this momentum going. If he can, the team will get better too.”
The next-best finisher for the Bulldogs was sophomore Caleb Machuca, who came in 394th place at 18:21.
“After a strong showing at Granite, Caleb Machuca struggled some today,” Bradley said. “He’s been fighting some shin pain for a few weeks and it just got the better of him today. We’ll rest him a little bit and see if we can’t get him healthy for next week.”
Highland’s third scorer was freshman Joe Gallo, who placed 412th in 18:28.
“Joe Gallo really got us excited today,” Bradley said. “He’s a freshman with no distance experience whatsoever. We thought he looked strong at the Season Kickoff meet but his Granite City results weren’t where we hoped they would be. Today, however, he was terrific. He was a monster over the last 1.5 miles of the race. We can’t wait to see how he develops.”
Rounding out the top five-finishers who also broke 19:00 for the Bulldogs were junior Brett Cochran (425th place, 18:32) and senior Adam Kelso (469th place, 18:45).