PEORIA — History was set Saturday afternoon at Detweiller Park, and a local runner was able to witness it up-close and personal.
In the Class 3A boys cross-country state final, Josh Methner of Arlington Heights Hersey set the boys overall state meet record with a time of 13:49.86. The previous record of 13:50.6 was set in 1972 by Craig Virgin of Lebanon.
Lined up just one box away from the eventual state champion and new record holder, Moline junior Jackson McClellan couldn’t believe what had happened.
“It’s really cool to be in the same race that the record was broken in,” McClellan said. “Right now I probably don’t appreciate it as much, but someday I’ll be able to tell people that I was right next to him at the start of the race.”
While the perfect conditions helped Methner and other runners break state and personal bests, McClellan felt that he didn’t run his best as he finished 152nd with a time of 15:45.
“The first mile I felt okay,” McClellan said. “But when I got to the back stretch it got tougher from there and I just beat myself up. That usually doesn’t happen. I think next year I’ll be more ready for everything and be able to handle the nerves.”
Fellow Maroon junior Lylia Gomez had a better state experience than her teammate, beating her previous best set at state last season with a time of 17:53.
“It feels really good to PR again,” Gomez said. “I was trying to stay positive throughout the season, but it was frustrating not improving. I crossed the mat after the first mile and knew it was possible to get a good time today.”
The Sherrard boys’ team was the lone full team from the local area to make it down to state. The Tigers finished 24th out of 25 teams in the 1A race with 617 points. They were led by Jacob Belha (67th, 16:02).
“I’m really glad we got the experience and to see what it takes to compete with all of these great teams,” Sherrard coach Ryan Buchanan said. “We’re young, but we have shown that we are a team that is ready to compete. The future is bright for the program.”
Also in the 1A race were local individuals Tyler Kibling (40th, 15:45) of Rockridge, Riley Coulter (71st, 16:06) of Mercer County and Koby Brackemeyer (146th, 17:00) of Morrison.
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Kibling’s state experience from last season helped him, but it didn’t quell his excitement at the beginning of the race.
“I was really nervous and shaking at the starting line,” Kibling said. “I knew this was it, so I went out strong, maybe a little stronger than I would have liked to. I’m happy with everything I accomplished in my high school career.”
Coulter also said nerves affect him to start the race.
“I tried keeping nerves down, but they definitely got to me,” Coulter said. “I felt tired and sluggish, but that race is what a real championship race is like. It’s pretty crazy.”
Senior Lauren Belvel (78th, 18:57) and sophomore Lacey Laxton (87th, 19:06), both of Geneseo, each got to experience state for the first time. Belvel was happy to be able to finish her career at the highest level.
“It felt great to run with great runners that helped me out and boosted my confidence,” Belvel said. “Running with Lacey was great too, because we’ve pushed each other to become better. I’ve been running cross-country for six years and it’s good to have one last run.”
Tatum David of Richland County set the state record for 2A competition with a time of 16:04. David is just a freshman.
Anne Gregory (29th, 18:14) of United finished out her high school career just four places shy of all-state honors in 1A.
"The competition is rough but it's good for you," Gregory said. "It pushes you to be better."
Fellow LTC runner Crystal Musgrave of Annawan-Wethersfield had an unfortunate end to her cross-country season. The sophomore got out to a great start with a good split at the mile marker, but going into the back end of the course, disaster struck.
"There was a pack of girls that fell down, and she was one of them, unfortunately," Titans coach Creston Fenn said. "She got right back up and tried to run but she wasn't able to. She's a tough kid, but her leg just hurt too much to go on."