Lincoln Park in Springfield was the place to be on Saturday for an IHSA Sectional preview as some of the best girls’ cross country programs in the southern half of the state were there. So, it was a great opportunity to see how your team measured up at the halfway stage of the season.
Highland stacked up decently, finishing in sixth place out of 19 competing teams at the Springfield Invitational.
Rochester easily bagged the team title with a meet-low team score of 61, which was 50 points to the good of second place Chatham Glenwood’s final total of 111.
Springfield finished third at 133, Decatur St. Theresa placed fourth at 141, Liberty was fifth at 166 and Highland rounded out the top-six squads at 174.
Completing the rest of the 19-team field were: Springfield Lutheran (178), Mount Vernon (221), Porta (258), Belleville East (280), Quincy (289), Sacred Heart-Griffin (312), Mascoutah (321), Roxana (325), Williamsville (328), Taylorville (363), Auburn (426), Springfield Lanphier (471) and Lincoln (497).
“The girls saw some tough opponents today,” said Highland coach Doug Bradley. “The girls 2A field has really gotten tougher with the addition of Rochester (enrollment) and Decatur St. Theresa (IHSA success factor). It will be a war on Halloween day in Decatur to qualify for state and I hope we can be a part of it.”
Bradley said the girls are struggling with consistency.
“It’s a typical problem that most teams have and they are a smart bunch,” he said. “I expect that they will get the wrinkles worked out over the next couple of races. There is little margin for error in the MVC and at the IHSA sectional. If they want to experience postseason success, they’ll have to dial up their intensity and focus.”
Junior Sarah Beth Wiegman was the Lady Bulldogs’ No. 1 runner again as she garnered a medal after crossing the finish line in 17th place out of 152 overall harriers with a sub 20-minute time of 19 minutes, 37 seconds.
“Sarah Beth Wiegman was once again our leader,” Bradley said. “With Homecoming week and a busy volleyball schedule, she wasn’t able to practice much this week and she was worried that she wouldn’t be as sharp as she has been. She struggled a bit in the middle mile but she is a tough kid and she fought her way to the 17th place over that last mile.”
Highland freshman Katelyn Marti also earned a top-30 medal as she came home in 29th place after stopping the clock at 20:01.
“Katelyn Marti is still trying to figure it all out,” Bradley said. “She has talent and heart and those two things are priceless in any sport. She has had some terrific starts in each race but has had some difficulty maintaining the pace over the next two miles. We tried something a bit different today and she liked how it felt. I’m really excited about her upside.”
Filling out the team score for the Lady Bulldogs were senior Allison Zobrist (38th place, 20:22) and sophomore Breann Wernle (41st place, 20:29).
“Allison Zobrist and Breann Wernle were off their game a bit today,” Bradley said. “I thought they both had a very smart start but Allison really crashed in mile two and Breann had a similar experience in mile three. It’s hard to put a finger on what happened but I’m confident these two will bounce back the next time they get a chance.”