Regan Weidner took nothing for granted. She knew she had to earn her way back to the IHSA State Cross Country Meet in Peoria.
“You’re not going until you actually do it,” she said.
Now that she’s there, she wants to do something about.
Weidner, who will be joined, once again, by teammate Ryan Taylor, have their eyes on bringing home another Top 25 All-State finish and bettering her 21st-place finish from her freshmen season.
“Right now, my two goals are under 18 (minutes) and top 10,” said Weidner, who won the Rock Falls Regional and placed second at the Oregon Sectional. “My whole workout this season has been to set me up to run a 17:45. Coach Donner wants me to go top 10.”
Donner noted Weidner initially set her sights on a top 15 finish, but has bought into his pitch to aim lower.
“Regan has set her goal for a top 15 in state, while our coaching staff believes she can go top 10. She has put in a lot of miles to prepare for this, and it is time to see all her hard work pay off,” Donner said.
Weidner has already proven herself against most of the top girls this year, and has fared well against them, Donner noted. Thirteen of the 20 runners placing ahead of Weidner from the 2011 state meet have returned this season, including runner-up Alex Van Hoof of Bloomington Central Catholic. Freshman Taylor Bartolozzi of Rochester is the favorite going into the race.
Taylor, who also qualified individually a year ago, has finished just out of the money at both regionals and sectionals and joked with Donner he would love doing that again at state which would mean placing 26th, an improvement of cutting his 2011 finish of 63rd more than half.
“Realistically, Ryan can finish in the top 50 at state, and if he runs a real good race he can maybe go top 35,” Donner said. “He will be able to pull from last year’s experience to help out this year. He has developed into a very good racer, and we are very excited for him this weekend. “
Taylor would like to break 16 minutes and get as close as the top 25 he can. To get there, he said it will be “the best race I have,” getting close to the 15:45 he ran at regionals last year.
He thinks he’s got it in him, saying “I’m starting to feel good and we’re resting up.”
Donner is instructing his runners not to relax and not get caught up in the moment.
“You run a fine line of not getting out too fast, but also not sitting back too much. We have confidence that both of these two will succeed,” he said.
The Class A girls will run at 9 a.m. with the Class A boys to follow with a 10 a.m. start at Detweiller Park in Peoria.