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2010 IESA State Cross-Country Meet

A total of 938 runners from 166 different schools will compete in the four races at the 2010 Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) State Final Cross-Country Meet Saturday (October 16) at Maxwell Park in Normal. This is year No. 32 for boys cross-country and year No. 31 for the girls. It is the 14th year of two-class cross-country for boys and girls.

The four races will be run Saturday morning on the 3200-meter course at Maxwell Park. The Awards Ceremonies will be held in the gymnasium at Parkside Junior High School. There is no admission fee.

The schedule of races will be: Class A Girls at 10:00 a.m.; Class A Boys at 10:45 a.m.; Class AA Girls at 11:45 a.m.; Class AA Boys at 12:30 p.m. The Class A Award Ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. The Class AA Award Ceremony will start at 2:30 p.m. The top 25 individuals in each race will earn a medal. Trophies are awarded to the top four schools in each class and members of those teams each receive a medal.

Here is a closer look at each of the races:

Girls Class A

Fans of cross country will want to get to Maxwell Park early to see the Class A girls race. Not only is the team championship going to be a battle amongst the favorites, so too will the race for the individual championship.

Two-time defending state champion Liberty will be looking for a three-peat as they return to defend their crown with three of the top 24 finishers from last year leading the way. They will face strong competition from last year's second and third place team finishers, Dunlap Valley MS, and Springfield St. Agnes respectively. Liberty won their sectional easily with 37 points while St. Agnes scored a meager 23 points to capture their sectional. Dunlap Valley had 39 points to secure their sectional team championship. And, as close as the team championship appears to be, the race for the individual state title in Class A could be one for the ages.

Jackie Graham of Liberty will be back to defend her individual title. As a 6th grader last year, Graham easily defeated her closest competitor by 10 seconds and in doing so became just the second 6th grader to ever win an individual title. Should Graham repeat this year, in 2011 she would then have the opportunity to become the first-ever three time state champion, boys or girls, in the history of IESA cross country. She will have a strong field to defeat as Amanda Thate an 8th grader from Downers Grove Lakeview, last year's 3rd place finisher, is back and looks to be a very strong contender for the title. Abby Jockisch, an 8th grader from Dunlap Valley, finished 5th last year individually also returns to challenge Graham. The biggest challenge to dethrone Graham might come from 6th grader Anna Sophia Keller of Effingham St. Anthony. Keller actually attends Effingham Sacred Heart but the two parochial school in Effingham co-op their cross country teams with St. Anthony serving as the host school. Last year as a 5th grader at the IESA state meet, Keller placed 7th overall. She had the fastest time of any sectional champion by scorching the Shelbyville 3200 meter course in 11:52. Graham's teammate Adrian Siebers will also challenge after finishing 10th last year.

Boys Class A

The Class A boys team and individual titles will once again be wide open.

In each of the past four years the team champion has scored well over 100 points and it appears a higher score will capture this year's team title.

Petersburg PORTA is back to defend their state title after winning their sectional meet with 46 points compared to runner-up Pleasant Plains who had 66 points. PORTA's team consist of four 8th graders, two 7th graders, and one 6th grader. Three teams captured their sectional with low point totals--Brimfield and Eureka each won their sectional with 33 points while Effingham St. Anthony won their sectional with 30 points. The individual race is nearly impossible to call. Nineteen of the top 25 individuals from last year were 8th graders. Of the remaining six, only four of those runners are in this year's race. The highest returning placer is Peter Keller, the brother of Anna Sophia Keller of the co-op Effingham St. Anthony team.

Keller placed 11th last year and won his sectional in a blazing time of 10:51, the only Class A boys sectional champion to crack the 11:00 barrier.

The other three, Haad Hassan of Chicago Peterson, Ben Adkins of Brimfield, and Max Roberts of Green Oaks Oak Grove placed 23rd, 24th, and 25th last year respectively and have all advanced again this year. Of the three, only Roberts won his sectional. There was one 5th grader, Anthony Markanich of Bourbonnais St. George, and one 6th grader Patrick Engels of Clarendon Hills Notre Dame who took home individual sectional titles.

Girls Class AA

Chatham Glenwood returns to state with a goal of winning its fourth straight team title. Eight other teams who finished in the top 10 last year are returning this year and are looking to dethrone Chatham Glenwood. There will be some familiar names in the field and leading the way is last year's individual champion McKayla Harder, an 8th grader from Mt. Zion. Harder is undefeated this season and bettered her winning time of 11:40 last year on the Parkside course when she won the Parkside Invitational earlier this year. Perhaps the biggest challenger to Harder will be Meredith "Mimi" Smith of Wilmette JHS. Smith finished 5th last year and won her sectional in a time of 11:51 which is the same time Harder posted in winning her sectional.

Ashley Lafayette of Normal Parkside, who finished 11th last year led the way for the Pythons at the sectional this year and will also look to challenge Harder. Other competitors looking to take home the individual championship are Courtney Coleman of Antioch, Haley Thompson of Oak Park Julian, Mercedes Sanchez of Sterling Challand, Andrea Zecca of Channahon, and Jillian Kilrea of Frankfort Hickory Creek. The team title looks like it will be between Chatham Glenwood and Normal Parkside. The Titans of Glenwood nearly shut out the field in their sectional and scored just 17 points in taking home the sectional championship. They were led by Demi Dixon. Parkside was almost as good, scoring just 23 points in securing their sectional championship.

Boys Class AA

Only two of the top 10 individual finishers from last year return this year--- Zach Lyons, an 8th grader from Belvidere Central and Matt Degroot, a 7th grader from Normal Parkside. History will tell us that Lyons will be the favorite as no 7th grader has ever won the Boys Class A or AA race. In fact, in the 31 previous years, only three 7th graders have ever won the boys individual title. Chad Beals and Barry Pearman of Georgetown Mary Miller were each 7th graders when they won in 1987 and 1988 respectively and Jorge Torres of Prospect Hts. MacArthur won as a 7th grader in 1993. Torres went on to win three IHSA state cross country titles, the 2002 NCAA Men's Division 1 cross country championship and competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in the 10,000 meter run. Lyons won his sectional in a time of 11:15 helping his team to a 3rd place finish while Degroot covered the course at Maxwell Park in a time of 10:47 to lead Parkside to the sectional title. David Rodriguez of Mt. Prospect River Trails who finished 51st in last year's meet won his sectional in a time of 10:45 and looks to compete for the individual title this year. The 1st place team trophy could once again be hosted by Chatham Glenwood who took home first place honors in 2009. Glenwood scored just 32 points in their sectional. Parkside, which won three consecutive titles starting in 2006 will look to dethrone Glenwood. Buffalo Grove Cooper, coached by Tim Thiessen, will be very tough this year. The Cobras scored just 27 points in their sectional, easily outdistancing the 2nd place team, Wilmette JHS who had 101 points. Mt. Prospect Lincoln and New Lenox Liberty also will be looking for a top four finish.

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