It wasn’t quite a win for the Highland girls cross country team at the Class 2A cross country sectional Nov. 2 at Decatur McArthur, but the Lady Bulldogs’ second-place finish to Chatham-Glenwood was still more than good enough to qualify all seven of their runners on to the Class 2A state meet Nov. 9 at Detweiler Park in Peoria.
“I thought we ran pretty well and the course was pretty sloppy and you have to kind of factor that in. But I thought from a time perspective, we ended up running pretty well considering how sloppy it was,” Highland coach Doug Bradley said.
Highland qualified all of its runners in the top 54 spots as Grace Meyer and Julie Loeh placed 10th and 12th running the course in times of 19:11 and 19:18, respectively.
Faith Brindley ran a 19:34 to take 20th place, Maddie Dortch came in 22nd (19:38), Jessica Borror was 28th (19:57), Liv Heinzmann placed 41st with a time of 20:20, and Paige Schaible helped the Lady Bulldogs finished the course in under 21 minutes with a time of 20:44 for 53rd place.
Highland has been strong in meets throughout the season, finishing second in the Edwardsville Invitational in September, and winning the Triad Invitational, Madison County Championship, Mississippi Valley Conference Championship, and the Highland Class 2A Regional in October while finishing third in the Peoria Invitational.
“Including yesterday (Nov. 2) their record (against opponents) is 142-11 so, yeah we’ve been on a streak,” Bradley said. “So, we’ve been on a real good run here (of late).”
Only Borror has been running hurt of late.
Bradley is hopeful Borror, who has been dealing with an Achilles issue, can put together a strong week of practice and have a strong showing at state later this week.
“She has been dealing with an Achilles and I think probably we can say the Achilles issue is behind her now ... we just need to get her feeling a little fresher, probably,” Bradley said.
Getting the entire Lady Bulldogs team qualified for state is a huge accomplishment for this 2019 edition of runners after narrowly missing the state cut last fall. This will be the second straight season the team is going to state and the fifth time in seven seasons HHS is sending a group to the state meet.
In order to get a top-10 place at the state meet, Bradley said the key for the Lady Bulldogs is simple.
“I think we are looking at girls running PR’s (personal records),” Bradley said. “For us to be a top-10 team, we might need four of our top five girls to be in the 18’s (minute range), so then maybe you get the whole team that’s running something under 19 and I certainly think that’s possible.”
In the boys Class 2A sectional at Decatur McArther on Nov. 2, the Bulldogs fell short of team qualifying for state with a 10th place finish. Still, there was a bright spot in the day for HHS as senior Nick Hanratty fought through a week-long viral infection to qualify for the Class 2A state meet for the first time.
“He got into the doctor and found out he had a virus infection,” Bradley said. “So, he missed Wednesday, Thursday, and came back on Friday and practiced a little bit on Friday. That’s the kind of kid he is.”
Going on limited practice for one day, Hanratty made the cut thanks to a gutty ninth place finish with a time of 15:52.
“He ran a little bit on Friday and he raced his race and ended up getting ninth and he was able to pull it off and had a strong finish,” Bradley said.
Hanratty is the first Bulldogs boys runner to make state since 2009.
“Our four seniors, I hate for their season to end, but Nick does get one more week to run and I think the seniors are pretty excited about that,” Bradley said.