By Mark Jurgena
It was another great day for the cross country teams from Highland High School. This time both squads had great showings at the Class 2A State Finals at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Both HHS teams qualified for the meet and 12 of the 14 runners wearing Bulldog colors set personal records at the November 6th state meet.
“I have no explanation of why these kids ran so well except that they are more than teammates,” said coach Doug Bradley. “They’re friends and they’re fans of each other. When you come to a race and all of your support systems are here with you, your confidence grows. Every one of the fourteen ran with confidence today.”
Girls Place 21st at state: HHS finished with 504 points just two behind Wheaton (St. Francis) for the 20th spot. The Bulldogs avenged recent places behind Mascoutah and Mahomet-Seymour. All seven Highland girls ran career-best times during the race.
Maddie Dortch was the top finisher for Highland. She ran a 19:01 and placed 77th out of 236 competitors.
“Today, she went faster than she’s ever gone on any race course. That’s pretty awesome. She’s never ran a 5:57 mile on the track and today she did it in Peoria and still had two miles left to go. She’s really battled the second mile all season long and today she dominated it.”
After the first mile, she ran a 6:33 during the second and a 6:30 over the final mile.
“I felt good during the race,” she said. “It felt better than normal: short, fast, and easy. I am proud and very happy.”
Tarryn Keeney placed 114th with a time of 19:20.
“Tarryn Keeney has had an amazing season,” Bradley said. “She continues to impress each time out.”
Payton Frey finished 140th with a time of 19:40 while Alyson Pace placed fourth in 19:48. Liv Heinzmann finished 163rd in 19:53 and Lola Schlarmann ran a 19:53 good for 165th spot. Faith Brindley ran a 20:17 good for 198th.
Grayslake (Central) won the state title with 148 points while Crystal Lake (South) and Vernon Hills finished 2nd and 3rd. Waterloo was the highest finisher from the Metro East with a 17th place finish.
Individually, Ava Parekh of Chicago (Latin) won the title with a 16:23.88. The highest Metro East finisher was Hannah Meiser of Civic Memorial with a 17:56.50.
Boys Place 23rd at state: The Bulldogs had five of their seven runners record a PRs as they barely missed out on 22nd spots as they finished three points behind Mt. Zion. Lake Villa (Lakes) beat the Dogs by nine points for 21st.
Dallas Mancinas was again the top placer for Highland. He finished in the 57th spot out of 236 runners with a time of 15:53. He was .09 behind Trey Socha of Peoria (Notre Dame) and .03 behind Bryan Vale of Grayslake (Central).
“There was little doubt from the first summer workout in June that Dallas Mancinas was ready to take Easton Rosen’s place as the team’s number one runner,” said Bradley. “Today he finished what he started and finished with the 7th best place finish in school history. There are some pretty fast guys that are above him on the list and he’s got two more seasons to catch them.”
For his part, Mancinas was also happy about his performance.
“I loved running that race and it was a whole different experience running with a bunch of kids that were just as fast as me,” he said.
Ethan Smith finished 149th with a time of 16:30.
“Ethan Smith ran a personal best and a lot of that was a blistering fast first mile for him,” said Bradley. “He’s more comfortable being conservative early and a 5:18 first mile at state is relatively conservative but for Ethan, it was not. He feeds off passing runners late and he did a great job putting himself in the right position to pick off runners and run a personal record time.”
Mason Steinbeck ran a 16:43 good for 165th, while Avery Brock ran a 16:49 for 175th. Cole Basden ran a 16:53 for 178th and Cameron Pace ran a 17:26. Isaac Irving ran a 17:34.
Oak Park (Fenwick) won the team title with 120 points followed by Deerfield and Morton. Highland was the top Metro East squad, while Marion was the top from Southern Illinois. They finished in 18th place with 471 points.
Individually, senior Alex Partlow of Carbondale again ran away from the field with a personal best time of 14:11.96. He finished 25 seconds ahead of his next closest competitor.
Junior Joe Schwartz of Waterloo was the highest Metro East finisher with a 15:14.94 good for 16th place.
State Notes: For some perspective on Partlow’s performance consider he would’ve been runner-up in Class 3A (the largest schools). That race was won by Micah Wilson of St. Charles (East) in 14:11.18. Wilson had to outrace Nick Falk of Winnetka (New Trier) to the finish line. He won by three seconds.
Partlow, in a race where he wasn’t challenged, finished just .78 behind Wilson’s time.