Last Saturday, the Highland boys and girls cross country teams traveled to Jacksonville Community Park in Jacksonville and put forth their best foot to advance a group of state qualifiers.
When the day was done, the Bulldogs had two runners make the cut.
Highland boys runners Christian Knobloch and Dallas Mancinas qualified for next Saturday’s IHSA Class 2A meet. Knobloch punched his kicker for state with a 12th-place finish, running a time of 14:54 while Mancinas qualified with a 26th-place finish and a time of 15:08.
“It was a really good day for them,” Highland coach Joe Shannon said. “They ran their hearts out and it was really good to see.”
Having Knobloch and Manciana qualify for state was a welcome result for the Bulldogs, who ended up finishing 13th in the team standings with 289 points.
“Going into the race I ought we had a chance as a team to qualify for the boys’ side but then Friday night I got a call from Avery Brock and he suffered appendicitis on Friday night so, losing someone who’s n your top three (runners) kind of took out the chance of us going to state because Averay’s impact is immense on our team,” Shannon said. That was a tough call but I had to call our eighth man Liam Priest and tell him to get his jersey ready because he was gonna be racing, so the boys rallied pretty well, and those who didn’t make ran their best race all year.”
On the boys’ side, Donnie Miller rounded out the top three finishers for HHS placing 72nd (15:51).
In the girls’ race, Highland placed 14th overall in the team standings with 315 points.
“Overall, our 14th place, I’m pretty proud of that as we were 40 points ahead of Triad, who was i15th, so our sectional is stacked pretty high on the girls side, so it’s really tough to make it out,” Shannon said.
The Bulldogs had no individual state qualifiers but Peyton Frey narrowly missed qualifying. Frey, who ran her best race of the season to date, finished 34th with a time of 18:18 just two spots behind the final qualifier Beatrice Ibel of Urbana.
“Peyton Frey ran an amazing race and I know that Peyton would have made it out of any other sectional but this one’s just really tough,” Shannon said. She was two spots from making it out individually but she ran a great race. She put herself out there early hung on on the best she could and race till the very end.
Other top finishers for the HHS girls included Lola Schlarmann in 69th place (19:37) and Ava McPherson in 76th place (19:43).
Overall, Shannon was very pleased with the performance the girls turned in. “I was really proud of what the girls did and the girls all had their best race of the year and that’s all I can really ask for,” Shannon said.
Knobloch and Mancinas will compete in the boys’ race at the IHSA Class 2A meet on Saturday at Detwiler Park in Peoria.