PEORIA — Mixed emotions marked the finish for Journal Star area competitors after the Class 2A girls state cross country race Saturday at Detweiller Park.
Two Morton runners earned all-state honors and Washington snagged a second consecutive fifth-place team finish to lead a meet that featured four Mid-Illini Conference teams.
Aspen Gordon entered as one of several contenders for the individual state title. The Morton senior battled soreness throughout the race, but still finished an area-best 17th to earn all-state honors.
"We have good days and bad days and it was just not a good day for me,” said Gordon. “I kept replaying this day in my mind every single day and I’ve been so stressed out about colleges and running at the same time."
Lake Villa Lakes sophomore Brooke Stomsland won the 3-mile race in 16 minutes, 32.71 seconds. Defending champ Jenna Schwartz of Waterloo placed fifth (17:14.67). Gordon fell behind the lead pack in the early sprint, finishing in 17:49.89.
“I knew it was going to start out pretty quick and I wanted to see how I felt, but my legs were not feeling it today,” Gordon said. “I’ve been sore, but it’s OK. I did what I could and I’m going to move forward with it. I’m just so thankful for my team and my coaches, family and friends. I know this doesn’t define who I am as a runner or as a person.”
Gordon’s teammate Emma Skinner capped her first high school season with a 20th-place finish in 17:54.53.
“My strategy was to just go out smart in that first mile, because lots of girls go out too fast and they die out," Skinner said. "I went out at 5:40 (first mile) and I knew I couldn’t slack off after that mile and had to really push and work those places after that.”
Dunlap sophomore Macy Priess was the only other area 2A all-stater, as she placed 24th (season-best 17:57.79). She helped defending team champ Dunlap to a 12th-place team finish.
“I went out at the mile where I usually am, 5:40ish,” Priess said. “That’s where I wanted to be. Then, coming into the final stretch, I was like 26th of 27th, so I knew I needed to pick it up and pass a few people to be able to get to all-state.”
Washington’s fifth-place team finish was led by sophomore Jadyn Jacob’s 31st-place finish.
“Our team did really well this season,” said Jones, who was followed by Joy English’s 35th-place finish. “We’re all starting to work together and it’s a really cool environment with all of us trying to cheer each other on to get the next new record.”
Belvidere North won the team title, ahead of Vernon Hills. Morton finished ninth and Metamora 17th.
Stan Morris can be reached at 686-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @stanmorrispjs.