Skip to content

Highland Cross Country Looking Toward Solid Seasons

The girls cross country team at Highland has a recent tradition of excellence that can be easily seen by their postseason accomplishments.

They have qualified for the IHSA Class 2A State Final meet five times since 2013 including the last two seasons a state meet has been conducted (the IHSA did not conduct a state finals meet in 2020 due to COVID). Twice during that span, they have taken regional crowns (2013 and 2019). Last season they tied Mascoutah for the top spot at the regional. However, the Indians took the crown based on higher individual placements.

The girls then took 5th place the following week at the sectional meet in Olney.

However, they graduated six seniors off that squad including four out of the top seven group.

The Bulldogs lost Grace Meyer to graduation. She finished second at the Highland Regional with a time of 18:59.80 and finished 22nd at the sectional.

No matter, the returners are highly capable according to long-time head coach Doug Bradley.

“We’re returning some really experienced girls who’ve run in some big races,” he said. 

Among those veterans is junior Liv Heinzmann. She placed ninth in the regional last season with a time of 19:54.60 and 34th in the sectional. Her time was 20:29.07 at Olney.

She was the individual champion at the Freeburg meet last season as well.

Bradley pointed to senior Faith Brindley along with juniors Heinzmann, Tarryn Keeney, and Maddie Dortch as girls who will lead the way for the upcoming season.

Additionally, HHS has eight freshmen on this year’s roster.

“The sky’s the limit with those girls,” Bradley said. “We took them to camp this week and got a good look at what they are capable of doing and saw some really good stuff. If our experienced girls can convince the younger girls that they can run alongside them if not in front of them…we’re going to be looking pretty good come late in the season.”

As for the boys team, their stock is trending upward based on last season’s finish and the number of quality runners on the squad.

“I’m looking for leadership out of the experienced kids,” Bradley said. “If we get that and they stay healthy and stay on the trajectory they’ve started on…we’re looking at a team that is probably looking to improve on their 10th place sectional finish from the past couple of years. So from that standpoint, we’re looking for the best season we’ve had in about ten seasons if not eleven seasons.”

In that 2020 sectional, Highland beat Triad by 15 points for the 10th place spot. They finished only nine points behind 9th place Champaign (Central).

The Bulldogs graduated Easton Rosen who placed 17th last season at the Olney Sectional. But they replace him with a pack of runners led by juniors Mason Steinbeck and Ethan Smith. Steinbeck ran the three-mile sectional course in 17:27.83 good for 60th place. Smith finished eleven spots behind him with a time of 17:38.13.

Fellow junior Cole Basden placed in the top 100 at Olney with a time of 18:16.90.

Bradley indicated the Dogs began their summer contact days later than usual due to the COVID-induced extended track season.

“I didn’t push high mileage,” he said. “I tried to avoid burnout, it’s real easy to do when you don’t have races or anything to just start hammering away at the mileage. Our mileage numbers are nowhere near where they’ve been the last few seasons. We’ve chosen quality over quantity. I’m hoping the result will be fresh legs as we start the cross country season.”

Both the girls and boys teams will start their 2021 fall campaigns at the Granite City Invite on September 4th.

2021 Highland Boys and Girls Cross Country Schedule

Date              Meet                Site

Sept.4 Granite City Invite  Granite City

Sept.11 First to the Finish      Peoria

Sept.18 Highland Invite  Alhambra

Sept. 25 Springfield H.S. Invite                                           Springfield

Sept. 29 Triad Invite                  Troy

Oct.2  Jacksonville Invitational       (Boys)                          Jacksonville               

Peoria Invitational (Girls)      Peoria

Oct.5    Madison County Championships                                                                                 Bethalto

Oct.14 MVC Championships Elsah

Oct. 23 Regional                       TBA

Oct. 30 Sectional                   TBA

Nov. 6   State                             Peoria

Leave a Comment