Eighth place wasn’t where the Pekin co-op girls swimming and diving team wanted to finish Saturday in the Raider Invitational in Bloomington.
But that’s where the Lady Dragons landed after placing sixth a year ago, one point away from fifth place.
Pekin had some good performances, but lost points after Claire Whiting had to scratch out of the meet after her first relay and individual event because of a reoccurring knee problem that started bothering her Saturday after warm-ups.
Whiting wasn’t 100 percent, said Lady Dragons coach Mitch Richards, so Pekin’s 200 medley relay race and her 50 freestyle were slower than usual. Whiting didn’t compete in the 100 backstroke and 400 freestyle relay.
Kelen McDaniels, Jaidlyn Sellers and Sami Curtis did their best to make up for the loss of their injured teammate.
McDaniels finished second behind Metamora co-op star Noelle Peplowski in the 50 freestyle in a season-best :25.12 and she was third in the 100 butterfly in a season-best 1:00.06.
“Those were some solid mid-season times for Kelen. She’s looking stronger by the day,” Richards said.
Sellers was third in the 100 freestyle with a season-best :57.10. She also was second in the 100 backstroke in 1:03.34, just off her season-best time.
“Jaidlyn was leading the backstroke for the first 75 yards, but her last turn wasn’t the greatest and it cost her a lot of speed for the last 25 yards,” Richards said. “Overall, though, she had the best meet of the group we brought to the meet.”
Richards said Curtis had good swims in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle. Her fifth-place time of 5:36.68 in the 500 freestyle was a season and lifetime best.
“Sami is having an impressive freshman season. Nothing seems to be slowing her down,” Richards said.
Normal U. High won the meet with 347.5 points. Pekin had 153. Metamora (3rd, 258) and Washington co-op (9th, 132) were the other area teams in the 13-team field.
An injury took its toll Saturday on the Pekin boys cross country team.
Chase Paul hurt his foot in the final mile of the East Peoria Invitational at Illinois Central College and “hobbled in,” according to Dragons coach Cole Stoner.
“Chase was very gutsy,” Stoner said. “I’m proud of him.”
Paul is normally Pekin’s No. 2 runner behind Kolton Dunkelbarger, but he didn’t finish in the team’s top five and didn’t score points.
That’s a big reason why the Dragons ended up 11th of 15 teams with 247 points. Mahomet-Seymour won with 15 points, sweeping the top five places.
“Chase said his foot started bothering him at the end of last week and it got worse at the end of the race,” Stoner said. “He certainly would have been among the top 40 individual finishers.”
Dunkelbarger (9th, 16:02.1), Brody Blackwell (42nd, 17:14.3), Jared Presley (58th, 17:34.9), Seth Kasinger (70th, 17:53.8) and Cole Russell (80th, 18:14.2) scored for Pekin.
Paul (89th, 18:39.6) will learn the extent of his injury this week.
The Pekin girls cross country team finished ninth of 15 teams at ICC with 237 points. Dunlap won with 24.
Lady Dragons coach Erika Gilmore was happy with her team’s performance, especially because four runners finished within 21 seconds of each other.
“We’ve been working on running in a pack,” Gilmore said.
Paige Arseneau (15th, 19:13), Alex Bassen (37th, 20:24), Jayna Riley (73rd, 21:44), Chloe Powell (79th, 21:59) and Madison Vicary (80th, 22:01) scored for Pekin. Brianne Nye (83rd, 22:07) wasn’t far behind.
Pekin’s Abbie Latronico finished second in singles and Jaclyn Mulvey and Kaitlin Dunn were fourth in doubles Saturday in the Peoria High Maroon Invitational girls tennis tournament, held at Washington.
“I’m proud of the way Abbie competed,” said Pekin coach Gary Garver.
The Lady Dragons tied for third place with Peoria Notre Dame in the team standings, each with 19 points. Co-champions Washington and Galesburg each had 24.
Limestone (15), Pontiac (9) and East Peoria (1) rounded out the team standings.