Waterloo High School senior Jenna Schwartz never saw former Wesclin standout Susan Gibson or Lebanon great Craig Virgin compete during their brilliant high school running careers.
On Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Schwartz will attempt to join Gibson and Virgin as the only metro east athletes to win back-to-back state cross country championships when she competes in the Class 2A final at the IHSA State Cross Country Meet.
Gibson won the Class A girls championship in 1992 and 1993 then added a third crown as a senior in 1995. Virgin, a former Olympian and one of the top cross country runners in American history, won the state championship in 1971 and 1972.
A three-time all-state runner, Schwartz became the first runner from Waterloo and the Mississippi Valley Conference to win the state title when she finished the 3-mile course in 17 minutes 5 seconds a year ago.. Among her strongest challengers in the Class 2A final will be Brooke Stromsland of Lake Villa and Lanna Sturtz of Aurora Rosary..
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Stromsland placed fourth behind Schwartz at Detweiller a year ago and had the fastest sectional winning time in the state last week (17:15) at the Belvidere North Sectional. Schwrtz posted a time of 17:24 in winning the Decatur MacArthur Sectional. Her time was 1 minute 15 seconds better than the second place runner.
Other metro east runners who could compete for a state title on Saturday include two-time all-state runner Breanna Chandler of Freeburg and Justin Mumford of Wesclin. Chandler was 25th in the Class 1A final two years ago and placed 12th as a sophomore last year.
Mumford was sixth in the Class 1A final as a freshman last year.. The IHSA state cross country meet begins at 9 a.m. with the Class 1A girls race and continues throughout the day, concluding at 2 p.m. with the Class 3A boys final
Following is a brief look at the teams and top individuals from the metro east who will compete on Saturday:
Class 1A Girls
Starting time: 9 a.m.
Local teams competing: Freeburg, Roxana, Okawville
Top individual hopefuls: Breanna Chandler, Freeburg; Jessica Shepherd, Freeburg; Brooke Biffar, Gibault
Class 1A Boys
Starting time: 10 a.m.
Local teams competing: Freeburg, Father McGivney, Roxana
Top Individual hopefuls: Corbin Schwable, Freeburg, Carson Smith, Freeburg, Tyler Guthrie, Father McGivney, Cree Stumpf, Roxana; Justin Mumford, Wesclin, Camden Sadler, Althoff
Class 2A Girls
Starting time: 11 a.m.
Local teams competing: Waterloo, Highland
Top Individual hopefuls: Jenna Schwartz, Waterloo, Ella King, Waterloo, Sydney Haddick, Waterloo; Jessica Borror, Highland; Alyssa Kowalski, Triad
Class 2A Boys
Starting Time: Noon
Local Teams competing: None
Top Individual hopefuls: Casmir Cozzi, Mascoutah, Eli Ward, Waterloo
Class 3A Girls
Starting time: 1 p.m.
Local teams competing: Edwardsville, O’Fallon
Top Individual hopefuls: Abby Korak, Edwardsville, Hannah Stuart, Edwardsville, Maddie Miller, Edwardsville; Sofia Parker, O’Fallon, Emma Jordan, O’Fallon; Hannah Eastman, Belleville East,, Alyssa Elliott, Belleville West
Class 3A Boys
Starting time: 2 p.m.
Local Teams Competing: O’Fallon,, Edwardsville
Top Individual hopefuls: Will VanAlstine, O’Fallon, Roland Prenzler, Edwardsville, Max Hartmann, Edwardsville