Winnebago, Rockford Christian cross country among top teams at IHSA state finals

Jay Taft
Rockford Register Star
Winnebago's Grace Erb (408) competes in the Class 1A girls state cross country championship Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Erb finished tenth in a time of 18.07.07 to lead her team to a second-place finish.

The defending-champion Winnebago girls settled for second place Saturday while the Rockford Christian boys took fifth in the Class 1A cross country state meet in Peoria.

Winnebago's Grace Erb finished in 10th place overall with a time of 18 minutes, 7.7 seconds. Teammate Marissa Roggensack took 12th in 18:11.09, while Sophia Martino placed 23rd in 18:25.40, all earning all-state honors.

Winnebago's No. 3 runner Kaylee Woolery was unable to finish the race ("Sometimes your body just gives out at the wrong time," Winnebago coach Joe Erb said.) and the 2019 state champs in 1A scored 138 points — just behind Tolono Unity's title-winning 126.

More cross country:Rockford-area runners trophy hunting at IHSA cross country state finals

Winnebago's Renee Rittmeyer came in 38th, and one of its other top runners, senior Katie Erb, wound up in 108th place. She reaggravated a stress fracture in her right leg during sectionals and toughed it out on Saturday.

And while it wasn't what Winnebago was shooting for, it was still a performance Coach Erb could live with.

Rockford Christian's Ethan Walsh (787) kicks hard at the finish of the Class 1A boys state cross country championship Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Walsh finished fourteenth in a time of 15:20.96 to lead Rockford Christian to a fifth-place team finish.

"Oh for sure, it wasn't the outcome we wanted, but the effort sure was there," Coach Erb said. "We ran really well, it was just a couple of setbacks, and that's all it takes. It's just the way it is."

2021 IHSA cross country state finals:Top teams, top times and all-staters

Rockford Christian's Kelly Giardina placed 27th in the girls 1A race to fall just out of reach of the all-state line at the top 25.

Her teammates on the boys side made the cut: Ethan Walsh took 14th and Weston Forward 19th. Winnebago freshman Nicolai Martino placed 70th.

Belvidere North's Caden Mcnulty, second from left, and Orlando Hernandez (1389) battle for position in the Class 2A boys state cross country championship Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Mcnulty was Belvidere North's top runner in 33rd place with a time of 15:37.9, while Hernandez finished 59th at 15:56.31. Belvidere North finished in tenth place as a team.

Class 2A and 3A highlights 

The Belvidere North boys placed 10th as a team in the 2A state finals, led by Caden McNulty who took 33rd, and Orlando Hernandez who took 59th and Brandon Massman who placed 60th.

The top local runner in 3A came from Guilford, where sophomore Brandon Lawson came in 95th.

"I had some goals, like finish in the top 100 and be the top Rockford guy, and I got those," Lawson said. "This will be a great experience for me to learn from, and to gain some confidence from. I'll be back."

Jay Taft: jtaft@rrstar.com; @JayTaft