Hall coach Tom Keegan said he hasn't talked to junior runner Al Baldonado about placement when he makes his debut in the IHSA 1A State Cross Country Saturday in Peoria. But there's one spot both would like to see him end up — the top 25.
Baldonado will shoot for the coveted top 25 placement which would reward him with All-State honors. He becomes the first lone qualifier from Bureau County since 1997.
"Right now he just wants to keep his mind clear and continue to do what he has done all year," Keegan said. "You try to do all the comparing from sectional to sectional but there are variables that go into it. I think going to state in track last spring will help settle any nerves that he may have just because experience in settings like those are a plus.
"Neither he, nor I, are huge prognosticators, and Al knows it will come down to how he performs Saturday morning. His overall body of work this year should give him a great deal of confidence." Baldonado qualified for State by placing fifth in the Oregon Sectional with a time of 16:12. He missed out for State a year ago by one spot at sectional.
The week before, Baldonado was the regional champion at Seneca.
Amboy freshmen Megan Grady became the first girl to qualify for State by placing sixth with a time of 19:33 at the Oregon Sectional.
The Class A girls race starts at 9 a.m. at Detweiller Park followed by the boys at 10 a.m. Races for 2A and 3A will start on the hour.
Notes: The last time Bureau County produced just one state qualifier was 1997 with Bureau Valley's Jonathan Eckberg.
This year also marks the first time since 1997 that Bureau Valley did not produce a State qualifier. It is the first time for BV coach Dale Donner since he took over the Storm program from Don Guier.
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