Photo: Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton (908) battles with the top group shortly after the half-way point at Saturday’s IHSA State Cross Country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Clinton would eventually break away from the pack with less than a mile to go, winning the 2A girls State championship, and leading the Lady Knights to 6th place in the team standings. Photo by Justin Vacha
Clinton takes State crown in cross country
by Mike Slodki
Peoria, Ill.—Victoria Clinton, your spot is ready.
The Kaneland sophomore earned her way into IHSA and Kaneland High School girls cross country history by becoming State champ in the Class 2A race at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill., on Saturday.
It’s the first individual crown in the school’s history.
Clinton, who also finished second at the Belvidere Sectional and first at the Kaneland Regional, topped the three-mile course with a stellar time of 16 minutes, 56 seconds. The pace of a 5:39 mile helped best her sectional time by 43 seconds. It was a personal best for the sophomore.
Senior Stephanie Saey of Galesburg was in second place—11 seconds behind Clinton’s winning time.
Clinton strode ahead in the final 800 meters of the competition.
The sophomore athlete helped Kaneland to a sixth-place team finish with 180 points overall.
“(Victoria) ran a very smart race,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “(She) ran with the front pack for the first two miles, took the lead and pulled away the last half-mile. Earning a State championship pretty much says it all.”
“I felt great, and the Lord allowed me to do the rest,” Clinton said. “As we started closing in toward the second mile, I said I needed to pick it up. With a half-mile left I had to give it my all.”
Fellow Northern Illinois Big XII school Yorkville took the team crown with a total of 66, followed by Normal University at 112.
Montini Catholic finished third in a tiebreaker over Glenbard South at 172, and Marengo finished with 174 points for fifth.
Kaneland’s effort outpaced Crystal Lake Central, which took seventh with 203 points.
“Our team has really been working hard. We all have positive attitudes,” Clinton said.
After Clinton wowed the crowd, the next Lady Knight to cross the finish line was freshman Brianna Bower, who concluded her first campaign in 32nd place with a time of 18:09. Next for KHS was Sydney Strang, who was 38th with a time of 18:14.
Fourth for KHS was sophomore Aislinn Lodwig, who battled through the field with a finish of 18:36 for 69th place, while senior teammate Amanda Lesak finished, 81st with a time of 18:42.
The Lady Knights’ two-through-five runners all ran personal bests in Peoria.
Maggie Brundige finished her final State race with a 98th-place finish at 18:54. Fellow senior Abby Dodis took 120th at 19:15.
“Girls cross country is back to being the successful program it once was,” Ecker said.