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2012 IESA State Cross-Country Meet--Six Individual Titles; Six Team Titles; And A Chance For History!

A total of 1,103 runners from 198 different schools will compete in the six races at the 2012 Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) State Final Cross-Country Meet Saturday, October 13 at Maxwell Park in Normal, Illinois. This is the first year of the 3 class series. Due to the unprecedented growth of the cross country state series, an additional class was necessary to accommodate the new schools participating in the activity. There were 276 schools that entered the 2012 IESA state series compared to just 258 last year. Four years ago, there were 224 schools that entered the state series. There were seven Class 1A sectionals, seven Class 2A and seven Class 3A sectionals held last Saturday (October 6). The top 3 teams from each sectional plus the top 5 individuals not on one of the top three teams all advance to the state meet. Additionally, any individual who finishes in the top 10 also advances. This is year No. 34 for the boys cross-country state series and year No. 33 for the girls state series.

The enrollment breakdowns (based on a school's 7-8 enrollment) for the 3 classes was as follows: Class 1A 16-186; Class 2A 187-440; Class 3A 441-1052

The six races will be run Saturday morning on the 3200-meter course at Maxwell Park. The schedule of races will be: Class 1A Girls at 9:30 a.m.; Class 1A Boys at 10:15 a.m.; Class 2A Girls at 11:15 a.m.; Class 2A Boys at 12 noon; Class 3A Girls at 1:00 p.m.; Class 3A Boys at 1:45 p.m.

New for 2012-- The awards ceremonies will be held in the gymnasium at Normal West High School. There is no admission fee. The Class 1A award ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. The Class 2A award ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. The Class 3A award ceremony will begin at 3:15 p.m. The top 25 individuals in each race will earn a medal. Trophies are awarded to the top three schools in each class and members of those teams each receive a medal.

A complete listing of the 2012 state qualifiers is available here

Complete final results, individual and teams, will be available from the IESA website around 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Here is a closer look at each of the races:

Girls Class 1A

Race fans will want to arrive early because history has a legitimate chance to be made at the first race of the day. Anna Sophia Keller, an 8th grader from Effingham St. Anthony once again headlines the girls' races as she returns to Maxwell Park attempting to win the individual championship for a 3rd time. Keller actually attends Effingham Sacred Heart but the two parochial schools in Effingham co-op their cross country teams with St. Anthony serving as the host school. If she can win her race on Saturday, Keller will become the first person in the history of the IESA to win the individual championship three times. No boy or girl has ever won the individual title three times No 6th grade boy has ever won the individual title and only two have won it as a 7th grader and as an 8th grader. Those two are Barry Pearman from Georgetown Mary Miller who won in 1987 and 1988 and Jorge Torres from Prospect Hts. MacArthur who won as a 7th grader in 1993 and as an 8th grader in 1994. Torres went on to a decorated running career including an NCAA Individual championship and running in the 2008 Olympics. There have been several girls in the previous 32 years who have won as 7th graders and 8th graders. Additionally, two other girls besides Keller have won the individual title as a 6th grader--Jackie Graham from Liberty in 2009 and Carly Pederson from Normal Chiddix in 2006. Pederson had a chance to become the first 3 time individual winner after capturing 1st in 2007 as a 7th grader but was not able to accomplish the feat. Keller had the fastest time of any champion in last weekend's sectional when she scorched the field with a time of 11:31. In fact, her time was better than the boys champion on the same course and based on time alone is 71 seconds faster than the next girls' sectional champion's time. Last year, Keller raced to Maxwell Park girls course record with a time of 11:12 and will be looking to establish another course record on Saturday. Other sectional winners who will be trying to capture the first place medal are Avery Henegar, Fox River Grove; Brooke Drabek, Fox Lake Stanton; Katie Kleinert, Clifton Nash; Riley Baker, Elmwood; Isabelle Weaver, Havana; and Micah Tapscott, Athens. Don't be surprised if Abby Pohlman or Olivia Doll, both from Springfield St. Agnes place in the top 5 as they both finished just two seconds behind Tapscott at their sectional. The team championship will be very close. Fox River Grove scored just 24 points in their sectional and look to be strong contenders for the team title. Urbana University won their sectional with just 30 points and will be looking to hoist the championship trophy. And, two perennial powers, Springfield St. Agnes and Liberty, will be looking to once again take home the 1st place trophy as well. St. Agnes won their sectional with 41 points while Liberty took 2nd with 51. Between those two schools they have taken home 7 trophies in the past four years. Last year's Class A girls champion, Tolono Unity is a Class 2A school this year. The Class 1A girls race, both individual and team, could very well be a history maker.

Boys Class 1A

The Class 1A boys team and individual titles will once again be wide open. Since 2006, the past six team champions in Class 1A have scored well over 100 points and it appears a higher score will capture this year's team title. Last year's team champion, Chicago Whitney Young, has moved to Class 2A and so there is no clear cut team favorite. Bourbonnais St. George scored the lowest number of points of any team sectional champion with just 24 points. Rockford Christian had just 29 points to win their sectional. The other five sectional team winners were Buffalo Grove St. Mary's, Brimfield, Mason City Illini Central, Springfield Christian, and Teutopolis. The favorite for the boys individual title is likely to be Connor O'Neil, an 8th grader from Liberty. Last year, he placed 6th and is the highest returning placer from the 2011 state He will face a stern test from Charlie Zimmer an 8th grader, from Geneva St. Peter. Zimmer placed 22nd in last year's state meet and has his sights set on the individual title this year. Other sectional individual champions were Joey Carlisle, Palatine St. Theresa; Zach Joaquin, Bourbonnais St. George; Owen Habeger, Mossville; Emilio Rivers, Mason City Illini Central; and Carter Ware, Champaign Judah Christian.

Girls Class 2A

The Class 2A meets are likely to be the most intriguing of all the races on Saturday given the new classification system. Some of the schools assigned to Class 2A were Class A schools last year and some were Class AA schools. Tolono Unity, last year's Class A girls team champion is in 2A this year and are once again strong contenders for the team title. However, the Rockets did not win their sectional as the Chargers of Normal Chiddix, who dropped from the old AA class to Class 2A this year won that sectional and appear to be a favorite to take home a trophy. The two strongest teams on paper appear to be Mt. Zion and Dixon Reagan. Mt. Zion scored 30 points in their sectional win while Dixon Reagan had just 24 points in their sectional title. Dunlap Valley is always a strong team as they have a 2nd place and two 3rd place finishes in Class A the past three years. Valley won their sectional last Saturday and will be led by the sectional champion, Fran Verville. Other sectional team champions include: Lindenhurst Millburn, Channahon, and Farmington Central. The individual title is very much up for grabs. In addition to Verville, two other runners appear to be the leaders for the first place medal. Heaven Davis, an 8th grader from Tolono Unity finished 5th in the state meet last year with a time of 11:52 while Ashley Tutt, an 8th grader from Channahon who competed in Class AA last year captured 22nd place in a time of 12:16. Other sectional champions who may be leading as they turn for home on Saturday might be Mekenzie Harden, Dixon Reagan; Isabelle Sparreo, Buffalo Grove Twin Groves; Jordan Peckham, Farmington Central; and Annie Gegan, Rochester.

Boys Class 2A

Again, the new classification system means that the team title and individual championship are up for grabs with any number of schools and individuals having a shot at taking home first place honors. On the individual side, Jacob Gillum from Germantown Hills may very well be the one to catch. Gillum, who placed 25th last year in the Class A meet with a time of 11:12, has raced against many 3A schools all year and finished 2nd in the 50 team Normal Parkside invite and 1st place in the 37 team Dunlap Invitational. Gillum's sectional time of 11:03 gives him the 2nd fastest boys time. Leading the way is Shane Williamson from Vernon Hills Hawthorn South who blazed his 3200 meter section course in a time of 10:31. He finished 27th last year in Class AA in a time of 11:02. Williamson may very well be the one who crosses the finish line first. However, any of the following sectional champions could take home that elusive first place medal: Patriq Jones, Rockton Stephen Mack; James McEneaney, Plainfield Murphy; Augie Darrow, Moline Seton Catholic; Cole Eshleman, Paxton-Buckley-Loda; or Tyler Wilhelm, Mt. Zion. The team championship will be very close with the possibility of the champion not even being one of the sectional team winners. The seven sectional team winners were Dixon Reagan, River Forest Roosevelt, Channahon, Moline Seton Catholic, Geneseo, Mahomet-Seymour, and Mt. Zion. The team champion will no doubt be up in the air as the runners cross the finish line on Saturday.

Girls Class 3A

If there is such a thing as a prohibitive favorite in the team competition, then that honor would go to the Titans of Chatham Glenwood. Glenwood has captured four of the last five team titles under the old AA classification system and have been outstanding all season. Their 21 points at the sectional last Saturday prove that they are ready to defend their title this year. In addition to their sectional title, Glenwood has won 1st place at the Normal Parkside Invitational, the Dunlap Invitational, and the Normal Kingsley Invitational. They are led by Demi Dixon, an 8th grader who placed 3rd in last year's state meet with a time of 11:58. New Lenox Martino will certainly be looking to upend Glenwood as they scored a meager 28 points in their sectional victory--outdistancing the 2nd place team by 55 points. Homer Glen Homer also had a terrific sectional showing as they scored just 29 points to take home first place at their sectional. Other team winners were McHenry MS, Yorkville, Lake Forest Deer Path (last year' 2nd place team in Class AA), and Normal Parkside. Any one of these teams could be standing on the podium holding the 1st place team trophy. The individual race will be very close and fans will be sure to be at the finish line to witness the runners heading home. Dixon has not lost a race all year and will likely be the leader as they turn for home. However, a trio of runners could very well finish first--Tina Uhrenbacher from Homer Glen Homer has been racing well all year and finished 4th at the Parkside invitational. She won her sectional in a time of 12:02. Advika Kamatar from Normal Kingsley will also be among the leaders as will Lauren Garriques, a 6th grader from Lake Forest Deer Path. Garriques finished 24th in the state last year as a 5th grader and will be looking to be just the second 6th grader to win the individual title in the largest class in the 33 year history of the girls meet. Other sectional individual winners with a chance to win include Jenna Lutzow, Belvidere Central; Alexis Grandys, Yorkville; and Mackenzie Callahan, Minooka.

Boys Class 3A

The Boys 3A team championship is going to be extremely close and there will certainly be a different champion than last year as Buffalo Grove Cooper was not among the top 3 teams from their sectional advancing this year. New Lenox Martino may very well be hoisting the championship trophy Saturday afternoon as they scored just 19 points at their sectional last Saturday and will be gunning for their first ever team title. Martino took home the 2nd place trophy in 2009 and the 3rd place trophy in 2008. However, Normal Parkside has been running very well all year and will be looking to take home the 3A championship trophy. The Pythons have won all of their meets this year and certainly have some state history on their side. Parkside won three state team titles from 2006-2008, placed 3rd in 2009, 4th in 2010 and took home 3rd place honors last year. Chatham Glenwood could figure in the mix for the team title as well although they have yet to beat Parkside in any of their meets this year. Two other schools may surprise everyone--Yorkville, which has a strong cross country tradition in their district easily captured their sectional while a new school to the IESA, Batavia Rotolo, will be looking to take home a trophy in their first year competing in the IESA state series. Antioch and Arlington Heights South will also be in the running for a team trophy. The favorite for the 3A boys individual title has to be Alekos Mitchel of New Lenox Martino. Mitchel, who won the Parkside invitational back in September, placed 3rd in last year's state meet in a time of 10:24. However, Jacob Gebhardt, a 7th grader from Sterling Challand, raced away from the field in his sectional and won in a time of 10:35. Should Gebhardt win the individual title, he will be the first 7th grader to win the boys title since the activity was split according to school size in 1997 and just the fourth 7th grade boy ever to win the individual title. Jack Carnduff from Chatham Glenwood will be among the leaders when the field turns for home as will the other sectional champions, Jake Martocci, Belvidere Central; Matthew Pereira, Lake Zurih South; Sean Sanaghan, Mt. Prospect Lincoln; and Knikolas Dean, Flossmoor Parker.

This is the 18th year the state meet has been held at Maxwell Park in Normal. Normal Parkside is the host for the state meet.

For additional information: Steve Endsley, 309-829-0114



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