There was plenty to cheer about Saturday at the East Peoria Invitational cross country meet at Illinois Central College.

The weather was perfect. Finally.

Washington and Pekin finished fourth and fifth in the 20-team boys race. Washington and Morton placed fourth and fifth in the 18-team girls race.

Morton’s Sam Lange and Pekin’s Brody Blackwell were fourth and fifth individually in the boys race. Morton’s Aspen Gordon was second and Pekin’s Paige Arseneau was fourth in the girls race.

Perhaps the happiest coach was Pekin girls coach Erika Gilmore, whose team finished seventh.

“For as many years as I can remember, we were in a ninth-place rut at the EP Invite,” she said.

Gilmore’s team was supposed to climb out of the rut this season, but not in a good way. According to season-best times plugged into a virtual meet, Pekin should have finished 11th.

“Imagine our excitement to not only get out of the rut, but finish seventh,” Gilmore said. 

The Dragons’ Lily Wagemann and Madison Vicary each ran a season-best time to back up Arseneau’s fourth-place effort.

“We were grateful for the break from the hot weather, but the ICC course has a few tricks up its sleeve with a long, gradual uphill on the backside leading to the final 600-meter downhill to the finish,” Gilmore said.

“Our returning runners were ready for that, but they still felt the drain on their legs on the last lap.”

Gilmore said she couldn’t be more pleased with her team at this point of the season.

“There hasn’t been a meet when our girls didn’t leave it all on the course,” she said. “They have a great competitive spirit and are building confidence in their individual abilities.”

Pekin boys coach Cole Stoner said 17 of his runners ran a personal-record time Saturday.

“Those times were well-deserved after the tough week of practice we had,” he said. “(Saturday) was a good indicator of where we could be come (Mid-Illini Conference) meet time, and at the same time, we were able to compete against a few teams in our Class 3A regional.”

Bloomington won the boys team title Saturday and Mahomet-Seymour’s Mathias Powell was the individual boys champion (15:05.8).

Defending Class 1A state champion Emma Argo of Eureka remained undefeated this fall as she led the Hornets to the girls team title at ICC.

Argo was clocked in 17:38.8, beating Morton’s Gordon (17:53.5).

Here’s how local teams fared at the East Peoria Invitational, listed with their team finishes and top seven runners:



4. Washington: 11. Chris Hurd 16:09.2; 23. Ben Learned 16:35.5; 26. Avery Davidson 16:39.6; 27. Reese Borlin 16:40.3; 42. Caden Davidson 17:03.5; 53. Jackson Ward 17:09.9; 54. Jacob Stone 17:10.2.

5. Pekin: 5. Brody Blackwell 15:45.9; 25. Bennett Custer 16:38.6; 29. Seth Kasinger 16:42.4; 31. Jonny Blanchard 16:46.1; 45. Jayden Tabb 17:06.9; 52. Jeremy Leichtenberg 17:09.6; 62. Andrew Wolfe 17:21.4.

12. Morton: 4. Sam Lange 15:41.4; 58. Tyler Simmons 17:18.5; 67. Tristan Sturhahn 17:31.9; 81. Cade Zobrist 17:49.3; 82. Tyson Martin 17:50.5; 83. Jake Turner 17:54.4; 92. Brody Zobrist 18:18.9.

13. East Peoria: 18. Keaton Vandel 16:29.5; 47. Kolby Miller 17:07.7; 69. Caleb Alt 17:32.1; 4. Bailey Webster 18:01.1; 89. Dawson Dobbelaire 18:07.0; 93. Ryan Sosnowski 18:21.6; 97. Sam Williams 18:29.5.



4. Washington: 16. Jadyn Jacobs 19:12.4; 19. Joy English 19:22.9; 22. Brooke Evans 19:31.3; 35. Hannah Bennett 20:03.5; 49. Katie Geisz 20:38.9; 51. Madeline Kogelis 20:43.5; 56. Emily Baker 20:48.7.

5. Morton: 2. Aspen Gordon 17:53.5; 11. Meagan Moreno 18:53.2; 15. Emma Skinner 19:03.1; 68. Emily Klopfenstein 21:11.6; 70. Abigail Dryden 21:16.5; 74. Adeline Smith 21:21.4; 84. Tenley Dowell 22:06.4.

7. Pekin: 4. Paige Arseneau 18:14.4; 13. Alex Bassen 18:59.2; 44. Emma Cox 20:31.0; 59. Lily Wagemann 20:50.8; 67. Olivia Wolf 21:10.5; 75. Chloe Powell 21:31.0; 83. Madison Vicary 21:58.1.

14. East Peoria: 52. Tressa Tucker 20:44.3; 64. Krista Messer 20:57.5; 66. Liezel Lindo 21:05.8; 77. Rileigh Fortune 21:38.6; 78. Hanna Moeller 21:50.1; 80. Haylee Catton 21:52.4; 104. Lilly Maroun 25:00.3.

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.