For the Highland High School boys cross country team, it was a real bonus to have Jacob Plocher back from a month-long hip injury.
Plocher led the way for Highland with a 39th-place individual finish out of 153 total competitors after posting a 3-mile time of 17 minutes, 11 seconds to help the Bulldogs place 18th out of 25 squads at the Springfield Invitational Saturday at Lincoln Park in Springfield.
“He worked harder over the summer than any boy I’ve ever coached and to get hurt after all of that work had to be so disappointing for him,” Highland coach Doug Bradley said of Plocher. “He debuted today with a 17:11. That’s a career best for him. I look for him to be in the 16s(-minute range) by the end of the week.”
The Bulldogs were able to pick up some medals during the day.
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Junior Brendan Schrage, whose No. 1 sport in the fall is soccer, made his return to the lineup a good one by snagging the ninth-place medal in the junior varsity race after completing the course in 18:14.
“It was a boost to have Brendan Schrage run with us today,” Bradley said. “He runs all summer long with the team but plays on the HHS soccer team too. He had a good day and picked up a medal.”
Also earning medals for Highland were sophomore Caleb Machuca, who ran well enough to get a 20th-place medal in the freshman/sophomore race (18:29); and freshmen Joe Gallo (18:43) and Isaac Jones (18:56), who continued their early success by earning the 13th- and 15th-place medals, respectively, in the JV race.