The first edition of the Pre Mid-Illini Conference cross country meet took place last week, with Washington sweeping the boys and girls titles on the rugged, hilly course at Big Creek Park in Canton.

The Mid-Illini joined other leagues, like the Western Big 6 and some suburban Chicago conferences, in the concept. Metamora coach Gene Jones and Dunlap coach Chris Friedman spearheaded the idea for the Mid-Illini.

“I like the concept,” said Friedman. “It fits more with what our sport is. I’m one that says if you’re really seriously racing, you’re probably only going once a week.”

Individual honors last week went to Brody Blackwell of Pekin (16 minutes, 29.7 seconds) on the boys side and Aspen Gordon of Morton in the girls race (18:42.7). Defending champions Metamora (third behind Pekin) on the boys side and Dunlap (second) on the girls side were among teams not at full strength for the conference preview meet.

Count Washington girls coach Troy Walcott as another proponent of the pre-league meet.

“I like the idea of having this meet instead of numerous Mid-Illini dual meets throughout the season,” Walcott said. “Cross country is a sport where we want to run against good competition, but we don't want to over race. This serves both purposes to everyone's benefit. It'll be interesting to see how the scores change when we have our final conference meet on October 12th.”