PEORIA – It has become a tradition at the girls state cross country meet, and this year was no exception with Minooka again finishing among the top 10 teams.
For the sixth consecutive year, the Indians placed fifth Saturday at Detweiller Park on a perfect day for racing.
Minooka senior Vivian Van Eck capped her stellar season by finishing sixth overall, covering the three miles in 16 minutes, 37 seconds. It was Van Eck’s second All-State medal, as she placed 23rd as a sophomore.
“This goes to show you that if you set a goal and work hard enough, you can even beat your goal,” Van Eck said. “My goal and I thought I could be in the top 10, like ninth or 10th. I just kept telling myself to keep going, keep going after people. Races like this are really mental, especially if you get out well. Everyone is in the same boat, you just have to stay tough mentally.”
Van Eck was the only senior among the Indians’ scoring five runners as she was followed by junior Julia Dames in 48th (17:35) and freshman Kathryn Cichon in 67th (17:51), freshman Jocelyn Host 79th (18:01) and freshman Alyssa Hrusosky in 89th (18:07).
“It have been fun to watch this team grow this year,” Minooka coach Kevin Gummerson said. “It wasn’t always easy at times, but they jelled as a team and really came together. It was an impressive performance today, and I’m excited for all of them.
“Not only is Vivian [Van Eck] a great runner, but she is also a great kid. She has grown into a great leader this year. She has had to wait her turn, but she really brought this team together. She ran so well today, so competitive, and it was a great way for her to finish her cross country career at Minooka.”
Lockport finished 22nd in the team race and was led by senior Kate Wojcikiewicz in 71st, running 17:56 while sophomore Josephine Bober was 76th in 17:59.
Plainfield North placed 25th as a team as senior Juliana Stogsdill placed 104th in 18:13, to bring an end to a great cross country career for the Tigers.
Freshman Jocelyn Prosek from Joliet West, running as an individual, placed 78th in 18:00.
Lemont’s Kaylie Politza, only a freshman, placed 12th in the Class 2A race as she ran 17:41, a Lemont school record, as the Indians placed 18th as a team.
“I wanted to push as hard as I could and whatever happened happened,” Politza said. “It was great to race against so many unbelievable runners. They pushed me to my best race ever and I’m so excited. My goal was to get under 18 minutes and I did that also.”
The Indians also received solid performances from Marin Schiffman (101st, 19:19), Julianne McClatchey (104th, 19:21), Daina Malieska (19:25) and Destiny Vargas and Jenny Martinez, who both finished in 19:39.
“Our team competed well today,” Lemont coach Tim Plotke said. “I’m very excited with Kaylie’s performance today, she got out and ran very well and was not intimidated one bit, especially for a freshman on this stage.”
The Seneca girls placed 20th as a team in Class 1A and also were led by a freshman.
Audrey Jenkins placed 30th, just missing out on the All-State award by five seconds, as she ran 18:20.
“I was really nervous at the beginning,” Jenkins said. “But once we started racing you forget about all that other stuff. It was a lot of fun, and you learn so much by being here. I learned today that when you get to the big stage, just do your best. That is all you can do. I’m happy with how it turned out.”