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Triad Cross Country Completes Successful Season

By Mark Jurgena, Reporter

The Triad boys cross country team had a successful season as they qualified for the IHSA Class 2A state meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria. They placed 3rd in the sectional at Decatur and 2nd in the regional in Alhambra on their way to the state meet.

Triad finished 17th in the team standings.

“The boys all raced hard. We were hoping for a top 10 finish but all the stars had to align and unfortunately they did not. Getting to the state meet is an accomplishment in itself,” said coach Andy Brendel.

Junior Drake Bleier had an outstanding state meet. He finished in 19th place and beat his personal best time by 30 seconds. He ran a time of 15:25 at state.

“Drake ran a picture perfect race. He didn’t get too excited early going out in 5:04. While that may sound fast, Drake was a 4:33 miler as a sophomore in track and could’ve easily got caught up in the excitement running close to that,” commented Brendel.

Bleier ran a 5:13 on his second mile and finished the last mile with a split of 5:08.

“Every time we saw him in the second half of his race, his turn over was crisp and you could tell he was on. We knew that kind of performance was in there.” said Brendel.

During his third mile Bleier passed 11 opponents to finish all-state.

Triad put together several outstanding performances late in the year when they won three consecutive meets.

They won the Freeburg Invitational, a meet at Collinsville and finally they outdistanced Highland by two points to win the 57th Triad Invitational. Ben Walter finished in 4th place and  was Triad’s best finisher.

They placed 3rd at the MVC meet. Bleier, Ben Walter, and Caleb Bagwell were named all-conference.

“Our two seniors in the state team, Ben Walter and Jarod Willis are a huge reason why this group has steadily improved over the past four years,” said Brendel.

At the Madison County meet they placed second behind Edwardsville.

“I think this group getting there (to state) is the start of many more as we have a great group returning,” Brendel said.

On the girls side, junior Alyssa Kowalski qualified for the Class 2A state meet.

She finished 105th out of a field of 209.

“Alyssa had another outstanding state performance. While she was a little back of her time at the state meet last year, her finish and effort was one to be proud of,” Brendel said.

It was her third trip to the state meet.

Among the regular season highlights was a 2nd place finish at the Madison County meet and a 3rd place finish at the MVC meet.

Alyssa Kowalski, Sydney Hartoin, and Chloe Gough were named all-conference.

Triad will lose senior Samantha Kilzer for next year. She scored in every varsity race this season for Triad.

“Our ladies squad loses a great senior leader (next year). Our girls team will be super solid next season. If this group works hard together next summer, the sky’s the limit,” said Brendel.

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