Cross Country: Illiana Christian’s experience shows at stateIlliana Christian's Jordan Dekker reaches out to congratulate Nick Fiene (1272) after Fiene finished 38th in the Class 2A boys race at Detweiller Park. Kevin Vroegh (1279) is in the middle. | Tim Tierney - For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 6, 2012 6:24PM
The state cross country meet just keeps getting better for Illiana Christian.
Although it’s not unusual for the boys and girls squads to finish among the top 20, both Illiana Christian teams made the top 10 Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
The boys finished sixth in Class 2A with 202 points while the girls were 10th with a 297 total. Last year, the boys were 12th (328) and the girls 16th (381).
Tony Wondaal (13th, 14 minutes, 50 seconds) and Alexa Beezhold (15th, 17:41), both juniors, earned All-State recognition Saturday by finishing among the top 25 individuals. Wondaal was 30th in the 2011 state meet.
“You learn where to make moves, what to avoid,” Wondaal said. “Every year it feels new and fresh because we only run it once a year. It’s such an awesome atmosphere.”
Twin sisters Lauren and Kristen Brink were the second and third runners for Illiana Christian, finishing 66th and 72nd, respectively.
“We pretty much all had (personal records),” Lauren said. “It was really exciting. I was really surprised I did so well.”
“You just have so much adrenaline because so many people are there,” Kristen said. “You didn’t even think that you were in pain. You just wanted to finish.”
Girls coach Deb Top said the Brinks did better than they thought they could.
“The twins, we said 18:30 to 18:35,” Top said. “They were like ‘That’s too fast. We don’t think we can.’ And they ran 18:34. I know the girls really wanted a top 10 place.”
Packed too tight
Sandburg came home with an 11th-place finish for the boys team and 13th place for the girls.
“The state field has gotten tighter since I started coaching, more and more packed,” Sandburg boys coach John O’Malley said. “The times you ran today, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, you’re in trophy contention.”
Senior Pat McMahon finished 38th (14:58) to lead Sandburg’s boys.
“The tank was empty, I might have gone out a little too hard,” he said. “Overall, it’s hard to be disappointed. We’ve had a great season, we’ve had some big wins.”
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. 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.”