Highland senior Jacob Plocher and junior Gabe Sherrill ran well enough on Saturday at the Class 2A Triad Cross Country Regional that they both earned an individual berth for this coming Saturday’s Decatur MacArthur Sectional.
Plocher crossed the finish line in eighth place out of a field of 72 runners with a time of 16 minutes, 52 seconds.
Highland coach Doug Bradley said Plocher really labored throughout the race.
“He was significantly slower than his race here back at the end of September,” Bradley said of Plocher. “I thought he had a pretty gutty performance considering he wasn’t having a good day.”
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Plocher said he didn’t realize he was running that slow.
“I was frustrated that I couldn’t stay with the leaders but I didn’t realize how much I slowed down after I dropped off the pack,” he said.
Sherrill qualified for the sectional in is first attempt.
“He has been a great surprise all season long and it was enjoyable to see him earn himself an extra week of the season,” Bradley said of Sherrill.
Bradley said he thought the boys team, overall, put forth a pretty good effort and he was looking at Mount Vernon as the big competitor for the sixth and final qualifying spot as a team for this Saturday’s sectional at Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur.
But Mount Vernon finished seventh with 163 points, which was only three points better than eighth-place Highland (166).
Herrin grabbed the final qualifying spot with 140 points.
Marion won the team title with a regional-low score of 50 points. They were fillowed in the top five by Mascoutah (75), Waterloo (90), Carbondale (120) and Triad (127).
“We hadn’t seen Herrin at all this year so we didn’t really know what to expect from them,” Bradley said. “We knew that they had two boys that were pretty good but could only guess on the quality of the next three, so we targeted Mt. Vernon.”
Individually, Marion senior Zach Young won the race with a time of 16:13, which edged out Waterloo senior Jake Schwartz (16:14) by one second and Marion freshman teammate John Bruce (16:15 by two seconds.
Rounding out the top five were Mascoutah senior Ethan Price (16:18) and senior Atlantis Greene (16:26).
Four of Highland’s five boys that ran on the same course at the Sept. 30 Triad Invitational took time off from that race.
“We went into the awards ceremony thinking we might have a chance to qualify but we came up short,” Bradley said. “Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the opponents. They were wanting that spot pretty badly too. Running in his last cross country race today was Bret Cochran. Bret is a great kid. He works hard and has put in countless miles for the program over his four years. He comes to work everyday and goes about his business without ever muttering a negative word. We are really going to miss him.”
Bradley said that even though it is obviously disappointing that the boys’ season as a team came to an end, there were some positive developments.
“I think year’s team really helped blaze a trail for next year,” he said. “This group had a good attitude and developed from the beginning of the year to where they are at now. Gabe Sherrill, Brylee Portell, Nick Hanratty and Quentin Miller give us a decent core to build on for next year and we’re pretty excited by the group of eighth graders we hope to get.”