PEORIA — With a totally different team look from last year’s state championship squad, a young Eureka girls cross country team still managed a sixth-place finish at the Class 1A state meet at Detweiller Park on Saturday morning.
The Hornets totaled 225 points and got all-state performances from sophomore Anna Perry (fourth in 17:09) and junior Alexi Fogo (11th in 17:47.64).
“It is a completely different team,” Eureka coach Olivia Morris said. “We’re very young, and only have three of the same runners from last year’s team.
“The majority of us — three or four of the runners — it’s the first state meet. It’s been fun working with the young kids and trying to build them up.”
Also scoring points for the Hornets were sophomore Elle Knapp (50th) and freshmen Laurel Munson (55th) and Claire Wilson (109th).
Winnebago won the team title with 63 points, while Aurora Rosary sophomore Lianna Surtz, last year's Class 2A runner-up, won the individual title in 6:41.01.
Perry was among the lead pack throughout the race and made a huge improvement from last year’s effort. She just missed out on third place, getting edged out by Amelia McClain of Benton.
“I finished 81st last year, so my finish is what I was planning for and hoping for this year,” she said. “I was trying to save it for the end, but (McClain) just kicked in, and I couldn’t stay up with her.
“I tried to stay with them as much as I could for the first mile, and then tried to hold on as much as I could. I tried to stay with the third, fourth and fifth girls.”
Fogo made a slight jump from last year as well, improving from 14th.
“It was a little tougher than I expected today, but I gave it all I had,” she said. “I was expecting to have a little more energy, which I didn’t end up having.”
Area runners Savanah Beavers of Olympia and Breena Shreeves of Knoxville also had top-10 finishes, placing eighth and ninth, respectively. Tremont senior Lizzy Freidinger also earned all-state honors with a 23rd-place finish (17:55.94).
“My goal was top 15, and everything just all linked up for me today,” Beavers said. “My time (17:45.69) was a PR, and that was my goal today.
“I went out pretty fast and saw that none of the girls that I’m normally with were around me. Then Perry and Fogo went by me, and we were together in a little pack.”
Olympia placed 17th and Tremont 19th in the team race.
Johnny Campos can be reached at 686-3214 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.