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La Salle-Peru sophomore Megan Krolak runs Saturday at the IHSA Class 2A State Cross Country Meet. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
PEORIA — Bureau Valley sophomore Regan Weidner thought she had a chance at a top-10 finish coming into Saturday’s IHSA Class 1A State cross country race, while BV coach Dale Donner and the Storm staff ventured she had a shot at cracking the top five.
It turns out she surpassed everyone’s expectations.
Weidner surged late in the race after holding back early, overtaking Decatur St. Teresa’s Rachel Devereux in the final 800 meters to finish second in Class 1A with a time of 17:45 on the three-mile course at Detweiller Park.
The second-place state finish is the best performance in Bureau Valley girl’s history.
Running in 11th place with a little more than a mile left, Weidner made her move.
“I wanted to be in the top 10 at that point, and I knew if I could pass those four girls (in a pack ahead) that would put me in sixth. So I was working to get around them and with one mile to go it hit me that I only had one mile left. I decided to just pick off each girl as best I could one-by-one,” Weidner said.
With a half mile left in the race, Weidner ran down Devereaux and held on to withstand several late charges to finish one second ahead of the junior from team state champion St. Teresa.
“I passed her and she came up by me again, and when she did that I just took it up a notch. I could see the finish line,” Weidner said. “I couldn’t really feel my legs. It felt like my whole body was numb. I tried to go as fast as I could because I knew she would be coming up as fast as she could behind me.”
Donner had high praise for his sophomore standout.
“She’s just a great kid. She’s a hard worker. Every kid you have, you wish they had her attitude and she’s got a lot of talent to go along with it. Good things come to good people and that (finish) is proof of it,” Donner said. “We hoped for top 10 and dreamed maybe of a top five. She wanted to get 17:45. We trained for 17:45 all year long and my god, she hit it. I’m just so proud of her. She puts her heart out in every practice and every meet.”
Fieldcrest junior Maria Baldwin worked through an aching Achilles tendon and also rallied late in the race to move into all-state status with a 24th-place finish in 18:10.
“I was like it’s now or never and I just took off — and I’m dead now,” said an exhausted Baldwin after the race. “It feels amazing to be in the top 25 and get a medal, especially after track last year, getting out-leaned. It’s just a great feeling to put the medal around your neck.”
Henry-Midland sophomore Jillian Monier led the way for the first-ever team appearance for the Timberduck co-op with a 34th-place finish in 18:32.
Also scoring for the 15th-place Timberducks were freshman Ronna Pettis (87th, 19:26), senior Nicole Woodall (117th, 19:51), sophomore Melanie Yanke (118th, 19:53) and senior Alyssa Martynowski (134th, 20:03).
“It was just awesome coming up here for the state meet. This is what we wanted from the beginning of the year — we were shooting for it the whole season,” Monier said. “Just to come down here means the world to us. Last year we were one place away and it was a little devastating. It’s awesome coming down.”
Also in Class 1A, solo qualifier Dani Aurit of Marquette was 39th in 18:36. Ivy Handley of St. Teresa claimed the 1A state title in 17:24 as St. Teresa won its third consecutive team title.
In the girls Class 2A meet, L-P’s Megan Krolak set a new personal best with a time of 18:30 to finish 61st.
“I feel good because I set a huge PR. It means a lot because I’ve worked for this the whole season,” Krolak said.
Note: Weidner’s finish matches Jason Bill’s 2001 silver medal as the best performance in BV history.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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