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WALNUT — The hard work is paying off for the Henry-Midland girls cross country team.
The Lady Timberducks placed four runners in the top 40 at Saturday’s Bureau Valley Invitational in Walnut to capture a third-place finish with 143 points in the team standings at the prestigious 30-team, 235-runner event.
H-M was led by a pair of strong finishes from Jillian Monier and Ronna Pettis. Monier used a late pass before the final ascent of the race’s closing hill to claim a fourth-place finish with a time of 19:31, while Pettis cruised into the chute to finish 14th at 20:07.
Monier credited the workout regimen of coach Clark Owsley with setting her and the team up for the strong run.
“What we did this week really paid off for us today,” Monier said. “We did 1,000-meter repeats at a race pace and 12 1,200-meter repeats at a threshold pace right after one another. After that, we had a few days rest. It paid off. I have to say it was tough, but it really worked out.”
Also earning top-40 finishes for H-M — which finished behind champion Annawan-Wethersfield (86) and second-place Eureka (136) — were Erin McKee (30th, 20:44) and Melanie Yanke (33rd, 20:56). Emma Cluskey (79th, 22:21) rounded out the co-op’s top five.
“At the end, they were all tired and all torn up. You could tell we’ve worked hard to get here,” Monier said.
Joining the H-M crew with medalist finishes were Amboy-LaMoille’s Megan Grady (8th, 19:49) and Princeton’s Zoe Mead, who came in 16th at 20:17.
“Last week was a big jump for her as far as the season goes,” said PHS coach Pat Hodge of Mead, who placed 11th in 20:16 at her home Princeton Invite last week. “This week was about the same, but I think this course runs a little bit longer than ours does so I was very pleased. She got out well and hung on pretty well in the last half of the race. I think that as long as she’s successful she’s going to keep gaining confidence.”
Annette Baldwin (45th 21:24) led the way for the 15th-place Fieldcrest.
Also locally, Helana Amadottir (58h, 21:54) paced host Bureau Valley, which finished 16th in the team standings. Mendota was 22nd with 623 points, led by Emily Ross (91st, 22:41), while Hall finished 25th overall with a top run from Kaylee Olivares (95th, 22:56).
Kirstie Ramsey of Annawan-Wethersfield was the individual champion. She crossed the finish line with a time of 19:14, which was 11 seconds ahead of second-place Maggie Arndt of Westmont.
Note: A pair of the area’s top competitors did not take to the course Saturday. Last year’s champion Regan Weidner of host BV sat out the action with a leg injury, while Fieldcrest’s Maria Baldwin, who was third last year, missed the race due to ACT testing.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.