Oct. 29—DECATUR — Going to the IHSA state meet is a familiar feeling for Unity girls' cross-country team.
The Rockets realized that feat for the eighth-straight time on Saturday with a victory in a Class 1A sectional meet at South Shores Park in Decatur, scoring 45 points to comfortably outpace second-place Shelbyville (118) and third-place Robinson (145).
"We ran in pretty close proximity to each other which was great to see," Unity coach Kara Leaman said. "Olivia Shike and Erica Woodard really had great races (on Saturday) and Camryn Reedy has really been pulling through for us. We're excited to see what happens next week."
Unity's effort was led by Mackenzie Pound, who placed fifth overall at 18 minutes, 7.99 seconds. Pound finished directly ahead of teammate Erica Woodard, who clocked in at 18:34.46. Emily Decker (19:04.99), Olivia Shike (19:27.37) and Camryn Reedy (19:35.73) rounded out the Rockets' top five with finishes of ninth, 12th and 15th, respectively.
Unity will look to claim its third-straight state title with a strong showing in Peoria.
"We've really been working on the awareness of where their teammates are in the race," Leaman said. "They really have been doing a great job in the last few weeks of just (having) more awareness of each other during the race."
St. Thomas More wound up in fourth with 186 points and Clinton was sixth with 198 points to flank fifth-place Effingham St. Anthony (190) and advance to the state meet at Detweiler Park in Peoria.
The Sabers were led by Paige Stark's time of 20:22.80 that ranked 29th overall, while the Maroons were paced by a 10th-place finish from MaKayla Koeppel (19:07.41).
Tuscola's Kate Foltz ended up fourth at 17:36.87 to become the top area individual to advance to the state meet.
Other advancing individuals were St. Joseph-Ogden's Savanna Franzen (19:25.04), Oakwood/Salt Fork's Macie Russell (19:28.83), Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin's Aleah Potter (20:09.03) and St. Joseph-Ogden's Chloe Burkhalter (20:11.79).
Warriors top podium. Tuscola boys' cross-country is poised for its second-consecutive trip to the IHSA state meet.
The Warriors won the Class 1A sectional at South Shores Park in Decatur, tallying 74 points to best runner-up St. Joseph-Ogden by 15 points.
"The guys have worked real hard for several years, but it's kind of nice to see it coming together," Tuscola coach Neal Garrison said. "This is our first time ever winning the sectional, so its kind of a big deal for these guys."
Three Warriors — Josiah Hortin, Jackson Barrett and Will Foltz — crossed the line within milliseconds of each other, with Hortin earning the top spot at 15:29.79. Xander Neamtu was 26th for the Warriors at 16:41.09 and David Hornaday added a 51st-place finish at 17:20.96.
"It was pretty special because it's their senior year and they just wanted to finish off together," Garrison said of Hortin, Barrett and Foltz's effort. "I think really the whole race, they just enjoyed being together ... it's kind of nice for them to share (the moment) together."
Notre Dame de La Salette was third with 137 points, Clinton placed fourth with 197 points and Unity finished fifth with 208 points to round out the list of area teams who will compete for a state title.
Will Fuson and Dylan Howell from Cerro Gordo-Bement registered top-five times of 15:39.99 and 15:40.01, respectively, while Sullivan's Johnathan Iacobazzi posted a 16:25.89 and Heritage's Clark Roland wound up at 16:29.96 to punch their tickets to Detweiler.
Chargers move on. Centennial is the lone Class 2A girls' cross-country team still eligible for a state title after the Chargers' fifth-place finish in a Class 2A sectional at Jacksonville Community Park.
Farah Scott (17:40.70) and Brooklynn Sweikar (17:40.80) crossed the finish line in tandem to pace the Chargers in 15th and 16th place, respectively. Molly Pate (19:02.20), Kaylee Sweikar (19:37.90) and Lauren Kleber (19:51.10) rounded out the Chargers' top-five finishers.
Boyd, Mills shine. Mahomet-Seymour narrowly missed advancing out of the Class 2A sectional meet at Jacksonville Community Park as a team after placing eighth with 221 points, four points north of the cut.
Ava Boyd (17:17.70) and Taylor Mills (18:08.90) qualified as individuals for the Bulldogs, however, with other area individual qualifiers including Champaign Central's Aleigha Garrison (17:44.60) and Urbana's Marley Yau (18:01.10) and Abigail Fairbanks (18:15.40).
Mathias advances. Champaign Central's Caleb Mathias clocked in at 14:31.90 — third place overall) to lead area individuals at the Class 2A sectional at Jacksonville Community Park.
No teams advanced out of the sectional — Champaign Central was the top dog in 10th place — but Mahomet-Seymour's Augustus Gaudio (14:49.50) and Urbana's Hudson Coady (15:05.60) advanced alongside Mathias.