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Weidner joins elite club

Bureau Valley’s Regan Weidner is joined by her sister Haley Weidner (left) and the rest of her fan club from Bureau Valley South including Nichole Wirth, Regan, Cass Olds, and Addison Moreland.
Bureau Valley’s Regan Weidner is joined by her sister Haley Weidner (left) and the rest of her fan club from Bureau Valley South including Nichole Wirth, Regan, Cass Olds, and Addison Moreland.

PEORIA — Bureau Valley’s Regan Weidner joined an elite group of runners from Bureau County with her second place finish Saturday.

She joins former Storm standout Jason Bill as the school’s top two state finishers. Bill, who would become a No. 1 runner for the University of Illinois, placed second in 2001.

Weidner joins Princeton’s Bekah Faber, who also placed second in 2001, with the best state finishes among Bureau County female runners. St. Bede’s Matt Morse finished second in the 1A boys’ finals in 2006.

While Weidner may have surprised a lot of folks outside of Bureau Valley, BV coach Dale Donner remembers well the much-talked about “duel” between him and Paul Jelema of Lansing Illiana Christian, both of whom were unbeaten coming to state.

“Jason had a lot of pressure to try and win.  He was undefeated coming into state, and the PA announcer kept talking about the “Duel” between him and Jelema,” he said.

Jelema beat Bill to the finish by 15 seconds with a time of 14:32. They would become teammates for the Fighting Illini.

Bucking superstition: Those familiar with Weidner will notice that she changed her routine a bit leading up to Saturday’s state finals.

While she was sure to have her usual pre-race breakfast of spoon-sized shredded wheat with warm milk, butter and honey, she did decide to buck superstition and not braid her hair.

After running down a second-place finish, it would be safe to expect that breakfast will stay the same, but the braid will not be coming back any time soon.

“I try to do everything the same,” Weidner said of her pre-race ritual. “I always have the same breakfast. I always try to do everything the same. I think it’s more superstition. One thing that I did do differently is that I always wear my hair in a braid, and today if felt like not wearing it in a braid.

(Former Bureau Valley runner) Kimi Sanden came up and said ‘What’s going on with your hair?’”

Storm watchers: Bureau Valley had its traditional strong showing of supporters in Peoria. One group of BV South girls held signs for Weidner, a former BVS student, while another fan club spelled out R-E-G-A-N on the back of their shirts.

After the finish, Weidner said she saw all her friends and family coming at me, “and that was the best feeling in the world.”

Donner said it’s great to see that many Bureau Valley supporters there, because it really makes the kids feel special.

“They feel like sometimes they are overlooked, but when they see the support that the Bureau Valley fans give, it gives them a sense of pride and they want to go out and succeed as their way to thank those who came to watch and support,” he said.

Crisscrossing: DeKalb High School junior Kelsey Schrader placed 10th in the 3A girls’ race which went down as the fastest girls’ race in state history. Schrader, the granddaughter of Kent and Karen Hildenbrand of Princeton and daughter of LaMoille native Kolleen (Brian) Schrader, placed second in Class 2A in 2011. Two girls, including 3A champ Madeline Perez of Glenbard West (16:02) eclipsed the previous state mark of 16:22. … In addition to Weidner, four other area runners received top 25 all-state finishes: Marquette’s Luke Hill (9th), Henry’s Alex Pettis (14th) and Rock Falls’ Brandt Cole (15th) in the boys’ race and Fieldcrest’s Maria Baldwin (24th) in the girls’ race.

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