While it was a rough day overall for the Highland High School boys cross country team, junior Jacob Plocher had a good day individually at the IHSA Class 2A Highland Regional held Saturday at Alhambra Township Park.
Plocher finished in 16th place out of 56 runners in a time of 16 minutes, 59 seconds at the regional to qualify as an individual for this Saturday’s Decatur MacArthur Sectional to be held at Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur.
“Jacob Plocher earned his trip to sectionals,” Highland coach Doug Bradley said. “He earned it by waking up every morning this summer at the crack of dawn to get started on his 10-mile daily run. He earned it by diligently following his physical therapy plan after he injured his back running down a hill just before the first race of the season. He earned it by racing aggressively and with a purpose. It’s awesome to see a kid set a goal and work toward it.”
As a team, Highland finished in last place in the eight-team regional with 197 points. Triad finished one spot ahead of the Bulldogs with a score of 151 and the Knights and HHS were the only two teams from the Highland Regional not to advance to the Decatur MacArthur Sectional.
Mount Vernon was the boys’ team champion with a meet-low score of 60, which edged runner-up Carbondale (62) by two points.
Also qualifying as a team for the sectional by placing among the top-six squads at the regional were Mascoutah (67), Marion (85), Waterloo (119) and Centralia (151).
“It was a tough day for the Bulldogs, we definitely underachieved,” Highland coach Doug Bradley said. “We were at home, we had an incentive and we had a good week of practice. We just didn’t seem all that interested in competing today. Unfortunately for the boys, they won’t get another chance.”
Also counting toward Highland’s team score but not making the cut for the sectional were sophomore Caleb Machuca (42nd place, 18:22), freshman Joe Gallo (43rd place, 18:29), junior Bret Cochran (47th place, 18:49) and freshman Isaac Jones (49th place, 18:52).
In addition, junior Brock Schrage (53rd place, 19:19) and senior Adam Kelso (54th place, 20:11) also competed at the regional for the Bulldogs.
“Adam Kelso ran his last race as a Bulldog in his hometown today,” Bradley said. “Adam isn’t blessed with outstanding running talent but he's left his mark as a hard worker who motivated his teammates and always demonstrated character and humility. I wish the team could have bought him one more week but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Carbondale junior Atlantis Green won the individual title with a winning time of 15:37, which was 15 seconds ahead of runner-up Ethan Price, a junior from Mascoutah. Marion junior Zach Young was third at 16:04.