Benton’s Mia McLain and Marion’s John Bruce each performed well Saturday at the IHSA State Cross Country championships at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
McLain, The Southern’s Girls Runner of the Year last season, finished in ninth place with a time of 18:04 in the Class 1A girls meet.
It was the second straight all-state performance for the Benton sophomore.
“It feels really good, and all the hard work is really paying off,” McLain said. “Going into the race, I was really nervous knowing that there were a lot of good girls this year. I’m very happy with my finish, but I’m looking forward to the next two years just to see if I can do better.”
McLain finished in 10th place last season as a ninth grader.
“I was nervous because of last year; the town and my coaches thought this was going to be another big finish,” McLain said. “I was ready to put it all on the line. I was more nervous because of how much it hurt, and cross country is a very painful sport. But now that it’s over and done with, I couldn’t be happier.”
Massac County freshman, Ansley Bailey, took 29th place at 18:34. Du Quoin’s Gabrielle Alongi finished in 44th place with a time of 18:49. In Class 2A, Carbondale’s Madeline Prideaux took 83rd place at 19:04.
Marion’s Bruce earned an all-state selection as well in the Class 2A boys meet. Bruce placed 14th overall with a time of 15:08.
“I would say he definitely hit the biggest goal he had, and that was making all-state,” said Marion coach Eli Baker. “We thought he had an outside chance of getting top 10, and he just barely missed out on that. But 14th as a sophomore is very, very good. He was 48th last year, so he has improved by a ton.”
As a team, Marion finished 14th out of 25 teams. Michael Rutkowski (15:26) took 30th place, and Levi Bryant (15:30) ended in 37th place.
“We battled injuries and sicknesses all season long,” Baker said. “Two of our top five guys didn’t get to run at state, or pretty much, a lot of the season. To have a team that was missing two of their key guys, we still were able to at least get to state. We still managed to get the job done and be pretty respectable even though we had two guys that weren’t there.”
In the Class 1A boys meet, Nashville’s Brandon Schnitker picked up an all-state selection with a time of 15:23. He finished 19th overall. Pinckneyville’s Garrett Johnson finished 37th overall in 1A at 15:46. Carterville’s Austin Knight ran a time of 15:48, which was 38th place in 1A.