PEORIA – There was no sophomore jinx for Bureau Valley’s Regan Weidner at the 1A Girls’ State cross country meet Saturday morning.
Making her move on Decatur St. Teresa’s Rachel Devereux just before the half-mile mark heading into the home stretch, Weidner finished the race with a time of 17 minutes, 45 seconds and winning the silver medal in the 1A girls’ race.
Weidner cut 34 seconds from her 21st-place finish as a freshman. Her time was also exactly what she and coach Dale Donner were shooting for in this race.
“It was unbelievable,” Donner said of Weidner’s finish. “She came by me with a mile to go in 11th place. Next time around, with a half a mile to go, she was in third, pressing for second place. It was exciting. For her to hit her exact time that we’ve been training for, we set 17:45, for her to hit that exact time was priceless.”
“I’m just incredibly happy right now,” Weidner said. “Coming down here, I wanted top 10. Coach Hartz kept saying top five, but I wanted top 10. At the beginning of the year, all I knew was that I wanted to get under 18 minutes. I didn’t really have a goal for what placing I wanted at state, but even then, it wouldn’t have been anything close to (second).”
Weidner’s time put her 21 seconds behind Ivy Handley, who set the pace for her St. Teresa teammates, who won their third consecutive championship, with the time of 17:24.
Weidner moved up from 17th at 2,000 meters to 11th as the runners approached the final loop of about 2,000 meters. Ahead of Weidner were four runners and an opening to move into the top 10.
“I knew they meant the top 10. And I figured if I got in front of them, I’d be in sixth,” Weidner said. “With one mile to go, it hit me that I only had one mile left to go. I just decided to pick off each girl as best as I could one-by-one.”
With a half mile left, Weidner saw Devereux about 30 meters ahead, which she said blew her mind.
“I thought she and Ivy would be going at it for the win. I could’ve settled for third, but I didn’t want to. When I saw her in my sights, I was just thrilled, and I knew I had to try to pick her off,” Weidner said. “I felt good, so I just went for it.”
Weidner is the second state runner-up in school history for Bureau Valley; Jason Bill placed second in 2001.
• Class A boys: Bureau Valley junior Ryan Taylor ran a solid race in the boys’ race, finishing the three-mile course in 15:52, which put him in 49th place. He placed 63rd a year ago with a time of 16:07.
“Ryan ran a good race,” Donner said. “Ryan’s time would have been All-State eight or 10 years ago. They’ve really raised the bar in Class 1A in cross country. “
Beecher’s Grant Nykaza won the boys’ race with a time of 14:22. Champaign-St. Thomas More took the team title with Elmwood-Brimfield finishing second in team standings.