The Highland High girls cross country team was fresh off competing at two flat, fast courses at Granite City’s Wilson Park and Peoria’s Detweiller Park, and coach Doug Bradley said the 3.1-mile course at SIUE never fails to humble.
The Lady Bulldogs still came away with good results after placing fifth out of 16 teams at the Edwardsville Invitational held Saturday on the campus of SIUE.
“It’s a course that starts easy but each mile gets progressively harder,” Bradley said. “It’s real cross country and we benefit from running it but it still stings us from time-to-time and today was one of those days. I didn’t feel like the varsity girls executed the game plan very well, but my game plan was probably flawed too. They were supposed to get out and run with the team adjacent to them at the start. We had girls way in front of that group and girls way behind them at the half mile.
“Regardless of their results I think the girls definitely benefited from the SIUE experience. It’s a course that requires focus and it can really punish those that make mistakes.”
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Nerinx Hall, a Catholic school from St. Louis County, easily coasted to the team title with a meet-low score of 28 points. Edwardsville was a distant second at 72 while Litchfield finished third at 138, Waterloo was fourth at 164 and Highland rounded out the top-five finishers in the 16-team field at 169.
Freshman Katelyn Marti set the pace for the Lady Bulldogs and garnered the varsity girls’ only medal on the day with a strong 16th-place individual finish out of 169 overall runners in a time of 20 minutes, 16 seconds.
“Katelyn Marti made some bold moves early in the race,” Bradley said. “She was leading the field early and certainly has the wheels to compete with frontrunners of most races. Unfortunately she ran out of gas when the hills came into play.”
Bradley said sophomore Breann Wernle and senior Allison Zobrist didn’t have the juice they needed to compete better at SIUE after the duo finished side by side in 32nd and 33rd place, respectively, at 21:24.
“Since it was homecoming dance night, they left early from the meet and I didn’t get a chance to talk to them to see what they were feeling but it appeared that they had some dead legs,” Bradley said.
Rounding out Highland’s top-five runners were juniors Courtney Hengehold (41st place, 22:00) and freshman Lily Becker (66th place, 22:56).
In the JV race, the Lady Bulldogs earning medals were Sarah Kampwerth (23rd place, 23:22) and Brittany Cunningham (25th place, 23:27), while Keely Rittenhouse (30th place, 24:10) came up just shy of picking up a medal.