ROCK FALLS — The Ridgewood boys were seventh and the Stark County girls were second in cross country team standings at the Class 1A regional held Saturday morning at Centennial Park. Both squads advanced to next week’s sectional meet in Oregon.
Meanwhile, Annawan-Wethersfield, Kewanee and Ridgewood each had individual qualifiers.
The grassy areas of the course were spongy from recent rains. It forced runners to contend with that soft ground for most of the race, then switch to a road run on the paved straightaway path through the backwoods.
In boys team competition, there was a general consensus from area coaches that the top five spots were going to line up as they did: with Rock Falls winning the meet, then Sherrard, Erie-Prophetstown, Alleman, and Newman Central Catholic finishing in succession.
That left only the last two qualifying spots left up for grabs, with each coach expressing that it would take the run of the year to get it.
Riverdale look the sixth spot and Ridgewood the seventh sport.
“We are excited for the boys and this accomplishment,” said Ridgewood coach Karen Clark.
Ridgewood’s Nick Janson was 10th overall in 16:58. The next three team members bunched up well, coming in within 9 seconds of each other. They were Lukas Maness in 42nd, Caden Bowers 44th and Keagan Hixson 46th. The fifth scoring racer was Benny Melow, who was in 87th place. Matt VanHyfte was 89th and Joe Keever 94th.
Kewanee finished eighth, Orion ninth, Annawan-Wethersfield 10th, Bureau Valley 11th, Rockridge 12th and Stark County 13th.
Rock Falls senior Dawson Smith was the top individual finisher, coming in at 15:07.
Two area competitors qualified for sectionals. Annawan-Wethersfield’s Austin Earley was 11th in 17:12 and Kewanee’s Colin Vanstechelman was 17th in 17:29. Vanstechelmen raced Stark County’s Alex Welch through the chute for that final spot.
In the girls race, Rock Falls’s runners captured six of the top seven spots. Meet champion Bailee Fortney was first overall in 17:20 and Erin Porter was second in 18:48 and Calin Galrapp was third in 18:49. Newman Central Catholic’s Karlie Hey was fourth in 19:03.
Stark County advanced with Olivia Frail taking 11th in 19:51, followed by Ashley Orrick in 17th, Josie Price in 21st, Alyssa Dyken in 26th and Trinity Shimmin in 27th. Paige Rewerts was 33rd and Lena Becker was 34th.
“We had a real good day today, said Stark County coach Bob Rennick. “Conditions were great for us. Nice and cool. A flat course — we’ve been running hills all year.”
Annawan-Wethersfield’s Crystal Musgrave was the top area individual qualifier, finishing eighth in 19:36. She said Frail gave her a push at the end. But she expressed disappointment that she dropped down from fifth place after the first mile.
“Different grounds,” Musgrave said. “Soft to hard. That got to me. I kept stepping wrong. Then cold got in my lungs and I was really hurting. Got me down and in my throat.”
Ridgewood freshman Kendra Downing also qualified. She was 10th in 19:37.
Annawan-Wethersfield’s Danielle Johnson qualified. The freshman ran in 21:03.
Kewanee senior Haley Heeren finished 30th in 21:30, a personal best but one spot out of contention for qualifying.
“Haley ran a great race,” Kewanee coach Chad Palm said. “She went out and did exactly what she needed to, got out fast and fought all race long and kept moving up the field.”