WALNUT — The return of ace runners Ryan Taylor and Regan Weidner into the Bureau Valley lineup proved to be a big boost for the Storm in Saturday’s 1A cross country regional they hosted.
Both the boys (third) and girls (fourth) squad qualified for this week’s sectional. Amboy/La-Moille also got both of its squads out.
“With the boys having Ryan back, and the girls having Regan back, it seemed to be a psychological boost to the team. Hopefully we can carry that through to next week,” BV coach Dale Donner said.
There were just eight boys competing, with the top seven advancing to this week’s Oregon Sectional. Bureau Valley placed third, following Sterling Newman (56) and Rock Falls (64). Amboy/LaMoille (179) claimed the final spot in seventh.
Newman won just its second regional championship. Its first came in 2009 when it went on to win the Class 1A State title.
The top runners for Bureau Valley were Taylor (12th, 17:23), Daniel Trone (13th, 17:25) and Kane Eastwood (18th, 17:44), Kody Church (27th, 18:10) and Andrew Smith (29th, 18:12).
“Our boys ran a strong race, but we feel our best race is still in front of us,” Donner said. “We understand the difficulty of the course at Oregon, but feel we have put the work in this year to be prepared and advance.”
Annawan-Wethersfield junior Michael Cook won in 15:57.
The BV girls girls took fourth (112) in a field headed by Annawan/Wethersfield (33), Rock Falls (103) and IVC (106). Amboy/LaMoille placed fifth (134).
Donner said his girls simply “ran awesome,” finishing only nine points out of second place, as the top finishing team from the Three Rivers. Weidner head the Storm pack, finishing 17th in 21:28. She was joined by 21st. Katelin Johnson 21:49, 29th Helena Arnadottir 22:33.3, 30th Veronica Riggen 22:33.6, 32nd Riley Francis 22:45, 36th Heather Williams 23:07 and 38th Kelly Sierens 23:14.
“I am very proud of how they competed today. They have put in a lot of hard work and it is starting to pay off,” he said.
Weidner hadn’t competed since the Princeton Invitational in mid-September due to a stress fracture. Last year’s Class 1A state runner-up finished 17th with a time of 21:28.
“It was rough, but it could have been worse,” Weidner said.
Weidner has no illusions about what the next two weeks might hold. She’ll simply do her best at sectional, and then again at state, if she makes it that far. The top priority, however, is to be healthy next year as a senior.
“I don’t think this year will be anywhere close to next year,” Weidner said. “I’m just going to do what I can, hope for the best and believe in myself.”
Leading the way for Amboy was freshman Megan Grady, who placed third with a time of 19:41. She was bested by a pair of Annawan-Wethersfield runners, Kirstie Ramsey (19:04) and Kaitlyn Cline (19:37).
Grady, the Three Rivers Conference individual champ, admitted to some pre-race jitters.
“I was really nervous, and I felt really sick during it,” Grady said. “I was really light-headed, but I finished. I was like, ‘I can’t walk.’ I had Italian food last night, and I won’t do that again before a race. I felt pretty crummy, so I was amazed how I did when I felt that way.”
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