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OREGON — Last year, Hall’s Al Baldonado waited for two hours for results of the Class 1A Oregon Sectional only to find out he missed a state berth by a second.
That experience was in the back of his mind as he returned to Oregon for the sectional on Saturday.
This time he didn’t have to wait for the results.
He knew he earned a trip to this weekend’s IHSA State Meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria as he ran a 16:12 to place fifth.
“The whole race I was like, ‘I’m not letting that happen again,’” Baldonado said. “It feels great because last year was so close and I had the two-hour wait to find out I missed out, but this year it’s for sure.”
Baldonado got into the front pack early and stayed there the whole race.
“I wanted to get in the top 5 and just sit back in there because realistically, I don’t think I could have gone with the winners, so I was just going to get in position and hold out,” Baldonado said.
Henry-Midland senior Alex Pettis is the only other area runner who will join Baldonado at state.
Pettis ran a 16:16 to place seventh and earn his second consecutive trip to Detweiller.
“I didn’t beat my time I got here last year, but I think maybe weather was a factor there,” Pettis said. “I’m proud of myself for going (back to state).”
Pettis hung back early and was in in 15th-place around the mile and a half mark before moving up in the final mile.
“I just wanted to go out conservative and see where everyone panned out,” Pettis said. “I figured people would go out fast, so I just kind of stayed back and moved up in the flat parts after the first mile when I could.
“Around the two-mile mark is when I really started picking it up.”
Both Baldonado and Pettis are hoping to place in the top 25 at state this weekend. “I’m hoping for All-State and under a 15:20 because we ran at Detweiller (for the Patriot Invitational on Oct. 19) and I ran a 15:22,” Baldonado said.
Pettis is looking to improve upon his 14th-place finish last season.
“I’m hoping to get somewhere around 10th and hopefully make a run at the school record (a 14:58),” Pettis said.
Bureau Valley was the area’s top team finisher as the Storm placed seventh — two spots out of advancing — with 196 points. Ryan Taylor ran a 17:10 to place 25th to lead BV.
Fieldcrest’s Levi Schmillen finished 17th — four spots out of advancing — in 16:46 to pace the Knights, who placed 14th as a team.
Hall was 15th, Henry-Midland was 17th, Marquette was 18th and Amboy-LaMoille was 21st among the 21 teams.
John Weissensel led the Crusaders as he placed 21st in 17:01, while James Blackburn paced A-L as he finished 78th in 18:17.
Putnam County’s Noe Flores was 44th in 17:38, St. Bede’s Jake Condon was 95th in 18:43, Princeton’s Cody Workman was 107th in 18:53 and Ohio’s Johnee Schultee 108th in 18:53.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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