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Fieldcrest senior Maria Baldwin (No. 396) and Marquette senior Dani Aurit (No. 405) run Saturday during the Class 1A Oregon Sectional. Baldwin placed fourth in 19:12 to earn an individual state berth, while Aurit placed seventh in 19:42 to lead the Lady Crusaders to a team state berth. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
Henry-Midland’s Jillian Monier runs Saturday during the Class 1A Oregon Sectional. Monier finished ninth in 19:49 to help the Lady Timberducks to a fourth-place finish and a team berth to this weekend’s IHSA State Meet in Peoria. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
OREGON — Marquette senior Dani Aurit looked at the results posted at the Class 1A Oregon Sectional, shrieked and went sprinting to find her teammates.
A few minutes later, Aurit and her teammates returned, and after the rest of the Lady Crusaders looked at the results, more shrieking ensued along with hugging and even some tears of joy.
Marquette scored 151 points to place third and earn a trip to next weekend’s IHSA State Meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
“This is just the best news ever,” Aurit said. “I’m floating on clouds right now.” It is the first trip to state for the Lady Crusaders, who placed sixth at sectional last season and seventh two years ago.
“It was team pack running, it was determination, it was all the time we put in this summer — it was everything,” Aurit said about what got Marquette to state. “All these girls have tried so hard and we’ve been working and working. Last year was upsetting and the year before was upsetting, but this year we made history.”
The Lady Crusaders will be joined at state by the Henry-Midland team along with Fieldcrest senior Maria Baldwin and Amboy-LaMoille freshman Megan Grady. Aurit led Marquette to state as she placed seventh in 19:42.
Paige Aurit (21st, 20:29), Maria Ivanova (35th, 21:02), Olivia Rhoades (47th, 21:26) and McKenzie Mattes (54th, 21:35) rounded out the Lady Cru’s scoring.
“The group of girls out here was very competitive and all very talented,” said Dani Aurit, who hopes to place in the top 25 at state. “The goal was to stay in the top 5 or so and see how the rest of the race went toward the last mile or mile and a half. I got seventh, so I executed the plan pretty much how I wanted.”
The Lady Timberducks earned their second state berth in a row behind three runners in the top 10, led by Jillian Monier in ninth place in 19:49.
Ronna Pettis finished 11th in 20:05 and Erin McKee was 20th in 20:25. Melanie Yanke (21:49) and Emma Cluskey (21:50) placed 63rd and 64th, respectively, to round out H-M’s scoring.
“It means everything because last year we made it, and that’s what we were pushing for (this season),” Monier said. “That’s always our goal. It’s just amazing that we made it. It’s such a great feeling.”
Baldwin qualified for state for the fourth time in her career despite feeling under the weather.
“I was really sick (Friday) night,” the Fieldcrest senior said. “I think I ate something wrong at our spaghetti dinner or something. I was really sick last night and I woke up feeling nauseous — and the ground was really soft — but despite that I ran a P.R. (personal record) on the course and I got a berth to state, which was the goal.”
Baldwin overcame her illness to place fourth in 19:12.
“Just mental tenacity. I had to think like a lion,” Baldwin said about how she dealt with her illness.
Grady placed sixth in 19:33 to earn a state berth in her first prep season. Baldwin’s performance helped the Knights to a ninth-place finish, while Grady helped the Lady Clippers to 12th place.
Bureau Valley finished 14th behind a 52nd-place effort from Regan Weidner (21:31), while Hall finished 20th among the 21 teams with Kaylee Olivares leading the way by placing 97th in 22:57.
Princeton’s Zoe Mead finished 17th — just four spots out of qualifying — in 20:22, Putnam County’s Ashlyn Haage was 65th in 21:52 and Mendota’s Emily Ross was 103rd in 23:02.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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