The Morton girls cross country team savored this occasion.
For the first time in program history, the Potters competed in the Illinois High School Association Class 2A state final at Detweiller Park.
“This is definitely a momentous occasion,” MHS head coach Joel Zehr said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these ladies.”
Morton senior Bridget Carius missed all-state honors by just one spot with a 26th-place overall time of 18 minutes for three miles.
Only two Potter girls — 2012 graduates Ashley and Caitlin Pribble — have broken the 18-minute benchmark.
“She ran a phenomenal race,” said Zehr of Carius. “She did everything we asked of her.”
Morton was 18th as a team in a field of 25 schools with 457 points.
Bayley Selburg, a freshman, was 102nd overall in 18:56 as the second Potter across the finish line on her birthday.
Senior Hannah Behle was 136th with a time of 19:29. Junior Brooke Goodyear wound up three places and two seconds behind Behle.
Erika Gordon rounded out the Morton scoring in 170th overall in 20:07.
Freshman Chloe Williams established a personal record with a 20:17. Katie Saunders, a junior, had a 20:20 for Morton.
“I think the girls ran really well,” Zehr said. “They ran great races.”
Zehr credited girls co-captains Behle and Nikki Eigsti, also a senior, with helping to generate a lot of excitement for the program.
Just like they did in finishing third through fifth at the Oct. 27 Notre Dame Sectional, Geneseo, Morton and Galesburg were grouped together in 17th through 19th places, respectively, at the state meet. The Potters trailed the Maple Leafs by just seven points.
“This is a great way to cap off the year,” said Zehr, adding he hopes the event becomes an annual occurrence for Morton.
He praised the large throng of teammates, parents, friends and alumni who cheered for the Potters.
Yorkville was a convincing 2A girls state champion with 66 points, good for a 46-point advantage over Normal University.
Victoria Clinton of Maple Park Kaneland was the individual gold medalist in 16:56, the fourth fastest time in 2A girls state history.