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2011 IESA State Cross-Country Meet

A total of 1,046 runners from 186 different schools will compete in the four races at the 2011 Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) State Final Cross-Country Meet Saturday (October 15) at Maxwell Park in Normal, Illinois. There were 10 Class A sectionals and 10 Class AA sectionals held last Saturday (October 8). 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. 33 for boys cross-country and year No. 32 for the girls. It is the 15th year of the two-class system in 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

Anna Sophia Keller, a 7th grader from Effingham St. Anthony headlines the Class A girls race as she returns to Maxwell Park to defend the individual championship. 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. She won the Shelbyville sectional in a time of 11:37. Keller scorched the Class A girls field last year, setting the Class A girls course record in a time of 11:22 and winning by 10 seconds. In doing so became just the second 6th grader to win the Class A girls individual championship. Should Keller repeat this year, in 2012 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. However, she will face extremely tough competition this year from Maryjeanne Gilbert of Peoria Hts. St. Thomas, Jacki Graham of Liberty, Katelyn Obert also from Liberty, Audrey Bloomquist of Paxton-Buckley-Loda, and Shaena Proctor of Bourbonnais St. George. Gilbert placed 3rd last year as a 7th grader and won her sectional on Saturday. Graham was the 2009 state champion as a 6th grader, placed 10th last year as a 7th grader, and is looking to finish her career with another individual championship. Her teammate, Katelyn Obert, finished 20th last year as a 6th grader and comes into this year's meet with the fastest sectional time. Bloomquist placed 6th last year and returns for another shot at the individual championship. Proctor did not place last year but won the very competitive Paxton sectional. Other sectional winners advancing to the state meet (with last year's place in parentheses) are: Linnea Yokup, Fox River Grove (108th); Maddie Monticello, Chicago St. Andrew (15th); Katie Forsyth, Manhattan (144th in Class AA); Cathryn Palmer, Dunlap Valley (102nd); Emily Nordsiek, Athens (48th); and Heaven Davis, Tolono Unity (83rd). The team championship will be very close. Liberty won the team championship in 2008 and 2009 and was looking for a three-peat last year. However, Springfield St. Agnes took home team honors last year with 77 points while Liberty finished second with 121 points. Liberty appears to be a favorite again as they scored 23 points in their sectional. In fact, there were three other schools that won their sectional with point totals in the 20's. Effingham St. Anthony scored a meager 20 points, Tolono Unity had just 22 points in winning their sectional, while Dunlap Valley had only 24 points for their sectional team championship. St. Agnes will also have a very legitimate shot at repeating as team champion. The Class A girls race, both individual and team, should be one for the ages.

Boys Class A

The Class A boys team and individual titles will once again be wide open. Since 2006, the past five team champions have scored well over 100 points and it appears a higher score will capture this year's team title. Eureka won the 2010 team championship with 138 points but does not appear to be a favorite this year. Chicago Whitney Young almost scored perfection at their sectional and easily won the team title last Saturday with 19 points. They will be strong contenders. Also among the favorites for the team title will be Paxton-Buckley-Loda, Robinson Nutttall, St. Joseph, and Tolono Unity. Springfield St. Agnes might surprise a few people and sneak in to capture a top 4 finish. Liberty could take home a team trophy as well and may even have a shot at the team title. They are led by Connor O'Neil who finished first in his sectional Saturday in a time of 11:01. O'Neil, a 7th grader, finished 47th last year. A trio of runners will also be strong contenders for the individual championship. Cory Landon of Carlinville may very well be the first to cross the finish line Saturday morning. Landon is the highest returning placer from last year. At the 2010 meet, he finished in 6th place with a time of 11:07. However, he did not win the Springfield St. Agnes sectional. That honor went to Tyler Johnson of Springfield Christian. Johnson, who finished 12th in 2010, had a sectional best time of 11:00 for the 3200 meter course. Another runner with an excellent chance of winning the individual title is Noah Tennison of Robinson Nuttall. Tennison finished just one second (and two places) behind Landon at last year's state meet and won his sectional as well. Other sectional winners advancing to the state meet (with last year's place in parentheses) are: Zachary Czajka, Wauconda (DNP); Keduse Worku, Chiacgo Whitney Young (DNP); Carlos Molina, LaGrange Gurrie (DNP); Shawn Malcolm, Moline Seton Catholic (26th); Liam O'Rourke, Stanford Olympia (51st in Class AA); Nick Porter, Paxton-Buckley-Loda (48th); and Austin Woodard, Tolono Unity (98th).

Girls Class AA

State meet host school Normal Parkside was able to stop Chatham Glenwood from winning its fourth straight team title last year when they captured team honors by narrowly defeating Glenwood 82-89. While the Pythons are hoping to repeat this year, it appears as though Chatham Glenwood is once again the favorite. Should Glenwood capture the girls team title, it will be the 4th time in five years that they have hoisted the championship trophy. In addition Glenwood has placed no worse than 3rd every year since 2004. The Titans blitzed the field at the E. St. Louis sectional by scoring 18 points. Leading the way for Glenwood harriers is Demi Dixon, a 7th grader who placed 7th last year when she ran 11:59. Last year's champion, McKayla Harder from Mt. Zion, set the record for the fastest time ever by a girl when she toured the course in 11:17. Dixon won her sectional in 11:51. Lake Forest Deer Path, Geneseo, Normal Kingsley, Normal Parkside, and Mt. Zion appear to be the teams that will battle Chatham Glenwood for the team title. The individual champion race is wide open with no clear cut favorite. Dixon is likely to be the favorite but she will face strong competition from the following girls: Haley Thompson of Oak Park Julian is the highest returning placer from last year. Thompson finished 5th last year as a 7th grader but only placed 3rd in her sectional this year. Mary Blankemeier of Oak Park Brooks won the sectional in which Thompson ran. She finished 17th last year. Lauren Coulter from Geneseo placed 9th last year and will certainly challenge for individual honors. Kelly Grove from Mundelein Carl Sandburg placed 10th last year and is certainly capable of a top 5 finish or higher. Other sectional winners advancing to the state meet (with last year's place in parentheses) are: Amanda Andrews, Algonquin Heineman (DNP); Haley Click, Lake Forest Deer Path (28th); Lexi Dimovski, Woodridge Jefferson (59th); Abby Fioresi, Oswego Traughber (DNP); Carly Marchal, Frankfort Summit Hill (136th); and Lauren Whitehouse, Mahomet-Seymour (124th).

Boys Class AA

Two of the top 10 individual finishers from last year return this year--- Matt Degroot, an 8th grader from Normal Parkside and Kevin Salvano also an 8th grader from Buffalo Grove Cooper. Both hope to lead their team to the team championship and also take home 1st place individual honors. Degroot and Salvano were the first to cross the finish line for their teams last year and each helped their school to take home a trophy. Degroot placed 7th last year as he and his Parkside teammates took home 4th place honors. Salvano finished 10th last year and that place helped propel Coach Tim Thiessen's team to first place. The Cooper Cobras will be looking to repeat as champions as they scored just 29 points in their sectional. Parkside was very impressive at their own sectional by scoring just 20 points in what may have been the toughest of all Class AA sectionals. History will tell us that no 7th grader will win the individual championship. Since the advent of the 2 class system in 1997, only an 8th grader has taken home the first place medal in Class A and Class AA. Degroot and Salvano will have plenty of company with them when they turn for home and head down the stretch to the finish line. Ethan Townzen of Edwardsville Lincoln ran 10:24 to capture the individual championship at his sectional. Townzen placed 30th last year at the state meet. Keagan Smith of Lake in the Hills Marlowe finished 13th last year and will certainly look to better his finish as will Eryk Yunk of Belvidere Central who claimed 17th place last year. Both Smith and Yunk won their respective sectionals. Four sectional winners who are advancing to the state meet did not even place in last year's meet. They are: Jake McEneaney, Aurora Bednarcik; Alex Mitchel, New Lenox Martino; Kyle Gravitt, Frankfort Summit Hill; and Alex Keeble, Mahomet-Seymour. The remaining sectional individual winner is Justin Loquercio of Wheeling Holmes. In a true testament to what dedication and hard work can do, Loquercio won his sectional with a time of 10:49---a full two minutes faster than when he ran in last year's state meet and placed 204th. As mentioned previously, Normal Parkside and Buffalo Grove Cooper appear to be on a collision course to decide who will take home team honors. Other schools who appear to have a legitimate shot at taking home a trophy include Mt. Prospect Lincoln, Chatham Glenwood, Mahomet-Seymour, Sterling Challand, and Channahon.

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