The final portion of the state cross country course at Detweiller Park in Peoria is not Natalie Waters’ favorite part.
“The finishing stretch here is sort of uphill a little,” the Lincoln-Way West sophomore said. “For some reason, I just think it’s the biggest hill in the world. I get so discouraged on that part. We have to do it three times throughout the course.”
Despite her lack of fondness for the ending, Waters earned All-State recognition Saturday by finishing 13th in the Class 2A race in 17 minutes, 36 seconds, the best finish by a Joliet-area girl in any of the three IHSA classes.
“I actually wanted to be 17:25, but 17:36 is still a (personal record) for me,” Waters said with a smile. “Only 10 seconds away from that goal, so next year.”
With two years of high school remaining, the diminutive Waters certainly has potential for more success. She finished 31st (18:15) in the 2011 state final.
“I’m really happy with my first two years,” she said. “I hope I get better and better. My senior year I hope I’m doing pretty cool stuff.”
The prognosis is good for sophomore Haley Beaumont, Lockport’s top runner who missed the state series because of a stress fracture.
“She had a great season when she did run,” Lockport coach Evon Marie Schlotter said. “She’s going to heal relatively quickly. Probably a week after she rested she said she felt fine. I need to train her a little differently next year.”
After Beaumont led Lockport to the SouthWest Suburban Blue title, the Porters regrouped without her to win their regional and take fourth in the sectional.
“They just decided they needed to run harder, and they did,” Schlotter said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t have made it down here.”
Seniors Kimberly Johnson and Courtney Correa led Lockport on the course at the state meet and Schlotter praised senior captains Emily Miller and Chesca Calicdan for their vocal support from the sideline.
For team and country
Minooka senior Joey Santillo (14th, 14:41) made All-State for the second straight season and ran in the state final with the team all four years.
“I always consider myself a cross country runner over track,” he said. “I finished and I had a little moment to myself where I looked back on all the seniors that have helped me, the kids that have helped me progress through my years.”
Plainfield East sophomore Joseph Suarez made All-State by finishing 19th, and has bigger plans for the future.
“My goal is for when I’m a senior to somehow win the state,” Suarez said. “If I keep on making improvements like this, I think that’s a very realistic goal.”