The Freeburg Midgets head into the Class 1A Boys State Cross Country Meet at famed Detweiller Park in Peoria on Saturday as the top ranked team in the state and a heavy favorite to become the first group of Midgets runners to win the championship.
The title, should it come, would put Freeburg in elite company. Not since Wesclin, led by Hall-of-Fame coach Keith Hall, way back in 1982, has a boys team from the metro east won the state title.
With a large group of Freeburg fans making the 180 mile trip north to cheer them on and weather conditions expected to be ideal for running, coach Carl Florczyk’s team can put itself in the record books forever.
Led by junior Charlie Parrish, the Midgets are ready for the challenge.
“The boys' have used the last couple of weeks as meets to fine tune their race strategies for the state meet. I think the boys are ready to peak this week. Pack times have been solid. It was great to see them very determined last Saturday at the sectional,’’ Florzcyk said. “Because we lost the sectional last year, that was a big goal we were able to accomplish. Everybody is healthy and feeling good.’’
Senior Alex Mack and sophomore Corbin Schwable will join Parrish anf four other teammates in their quest for the state championship at 10 a.m. when the Class 1A boys competition takes place on the three mile course at Detweiller Park. The six race event begins at 9 a.m. with the Class 1A girls race.
Class 2A and Class 3A boys and girls state finals will also be held with the marquee event — the Class 3A boys final — being the last race of the day at 2 p.m. The top 25 runners in all six races earn all state medals.
Also expected to contend for a possible top 10 finish in the boys division are the Mater Dei Knights. Led by junior standout Luke Goebel and legendary coach Marvin Eversgerd, the Knights are usually at their best at this time of year.
After a third place finish at the Metro East Lutheran Sectional last week, the Knights are at their best at just the right time.
“You always want to peak at the end and our sectional 3rd place finish last week. It was a solid team effort and probably our best race this season. I told the guys today that we can run a little better at Detweiller but it will take all seven runners having their best of the year,’’ Eversgerd said, “We’re hoping to be in the top half with a good race to finish the season.
Freeburg girls hope to be in the hunt
While the Freeburg boys team will be in the hunt for the state title, the Midgets girls team could be in the running for a top 10 finish. Although not quite at the level of the boys team, Florczyk’s girls squad also won the Cahokia Conference, regional and sectional titles.
Freshman Breanna Chandler has assumed ther role as the Midgets top runner and could be in the top 25 on Saturday. Senior Ashley Gilmore and junior Kayla Whitworth add experiemce and the knowledge on how to attack the course at Detweiller Park.
“We are running our best right now! We had to be at our best because we had to hold off a great Mater Dei team. They were really coming on strong at the end of the season, so we had to run great in order to edge them out at regionals and sectionals. Everybody is running strong and pack times are solid,’’ Florczyk said. “
As we head onto the state meet, I just want both teams to feel good, healthy, and have great races.
“My goal for them is to get to the start line relaxed and to let it loose!! I want them to have fun.’’
Two runners from Belleville — Tiffani Siekmann of Alhoff and Sarozjani Hunter of Governor French Academy — could also be in the hunt for a top 15 finish.
Following are brief capsules and a look at some of the top local individuals and teams competing in Class 2A and Class 3A.
Class 2A boys and girls
Waterloo sophomore Jenna Schwartz was an all-state runner a year ago when she placed 24th. This year, Schwartz could be in the running for a top 15 or better finish after winning the Decatur MacArthur Sectional individual champioinship last week.
Led by Schwartz, Waterloo, getting solid efforts from Ella King and Sydney Haddick, won the sectional team title and will also compete on Saturday along with Mascoutah, which placed fifth in the sectional thanks to its combination of Melanie Cozzi and Mackenzie Dixon.
In the boys race, Jerseyville senior Ben Flowers couold be in the hunt for thes tate championship after running away with the sectional championship. Mascoutah senior Ethan Price makes his state meet debut on Saturday and could be in nthe top 25.
Class 3A girls and boys
The top two teams in southern Illinois, Edwardsville and O’Fallon will be represented in both boys and girls divisions on Saturday afternoon at Detweiller Park.
In the girls race, regional champion Edwardsville will be led by Abby Schrobilgen and Melissa Spencer, while O’Fallon has perhaps the top local individual in the state meet in junior Brooke Witzel. The Panthers have four freshmen in their top six runners who will compete on Saturday
In the boys race, O’Fallon will make its 14th straight appearance in the state finals. Despite youth and battling injuries, the Pantrhers still have three of the top runners in the south in Joey Black, Chris Conrad and Will VanAlstine.
Edwardsville’s top hopes are veterans Frankie Romano and Roland Prenzler
Granite City sophomore Andrew O’Keefe will compete as an individual.