OREGON — Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio’s Margaret Vaessen is headed back to state and taking teammate Brock Loftus with her.
Vaessen qualified for state for the fourth straight year (second individually), placing 14th overall, and fourth among the seven individuals not on a state-bound team, in Saturday’s Oregon Class 1A cross country sectional meet.
Loftus placed 13th in the boys meet with a time of 17:33, advancing as the sixth individual qualifier.
The A-L-O boys came up one place away for qualifying, scoring 187 points to 169 for fifth-place Sherrard.
Both the boys and girls teams from Princeton came up empty-handed, but it didn’t diminish a favorable season for the program.
“It has been an interesting and rewarding season,” Princeton coach Pat Hodge said. “Our girls have had the most success that we’ve had since 2010 and our boys since 2011.”
Besides stiff competition, especially on the girls’ side with three of the top five-ranked 1A teams on display, the Tigers had to contend with inclement conditions on the 3-mile Park West course.
“We certainly don’t worry about times as much, especially with the snow,” Hodge said. “We just want to go out and give it our best effort. So our strategy is pretty much the same, although we’ll had to see what the actual situation was when we got there.”
With athletic director Mike Lawton and coach Lori Gipper spending four hours on Friday shoveling, the Park West course was free of snow, but muddy and slippery.
St. Bede placed 12th as a team behind 65th Daniel Dugosh (19:17), 67th Michael Dittmar (19:18), 69th Logan Zeglis (19:20), 89th Anthony Hernandez (19:49) and 93rd Beau Bonnell (19:53).
The PHS boys finished 18th out of 21 teams. Leading finisher was Luke Peacock, who placed 68th with a time of 19:19. Mack Williams was next at 88th (19:49).
Other scorers for PHS were 35th Reece Bohms (20:24), 121st Jake May (20:50) and 134th Eli Crouch (21:06).
Hall placed 20th, led by 84th Crowther 19:44, 113th Alejos 20:30, 126th Lucas 20:54, 155th Piccolo 22:40 and 157th Daniel Yanez 23:27.
Winning the boys meet was Dawson Smith of Rock Falls with a 16:24 time. It was his third straight finish in the top four at the sectional, and he will go into the state meet as one of the favorites for the individual title.
Elgin Harvest Academy won the team competition, with Rockford Christian, Aurora Central Catholic, Rock Falls and Sherrard also qualifying. Peru St. Bede was 12th.
For the girls, it was 1A state favorite Winnebago dethroning two-time sectional champ Rock Falls. Other than one junior, Winnebago is all freshmen and sophomores, leading to this observation from coach Joe Erb.
“We want to be the best small-school ever in history of the state,” said Erb, who had five state titles in a row from 2005-09.
Princeton took 14th and got an excellent outing from 35th-place freshman Lexi Bohms (21:40). The next finisher, Elizabeth Orwig, came in 90th. Rounding out the scoring was 101st Hannah Muehlschlegel (24:05), 106th Lauren Frost (24:28) and 116th Elana Martinez (25:02).
“Our girls winning the Gary Coates Invitational for the first time in 30 years, plus qualifying both teams for the Oregon Sectional for the second year in a row, have been our main highlights,” Hodge said. “The Panther Invitational at Erie was also a very good day for both squads.”
Senior Tea Cattani of Hall went top 50 with a time of 22:00 to place 45th. Freshman teammate Reyes finished 91st in 23:42.