Minooka wins Class 3A Sectional

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Minooka’s Mackenzie Callahan said her team had one simple objective entering the cross country sectional meet.

“We were hoping to beat O’Fallon,” said Callahan, who finished third overall. “And we did.”

With five runners in the top 15, that’s exactly what Minooka did, finishing with 39 points to beat out O’Fallon (66) and win the title ofthe Class 3A Edwardsville Sectional Saturday afternoon on the campus of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

It’s the sixth straight state appearance for the Indians, but their first sectional title in school history.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am,” Minooka coach Kevin Gummerson said. “The girls put in a lot of hard work and went out and ran with a lot of fire. We had a plan and executed it perfectly.”

Ashley Tutt led the way with a second place overall finish of 18:54. That was 11 seconds behind O’Fallon senior Sydney Neal, and 10 seconds ahead of Callahan, who is a fellow freshman on the team.Caleigh Beverly (7th at 19:05), Morgan Crouch (9th at 19:16), and Kaityln Chetney (15th at 19:41) rounded out the top 5 for the Indians.

“No, I didn’t expect this,” Tutt said of coming in as a freshman and helping lead her team to the sectional title. “But I felt good[Saturday]and this means a lot to the team. We’re really close.”

Lincoln-Way Central qualified for the fourth year in a row with athird place finish of101 points.Edwardsville (130) andLincoln-Way East (163) also qualified.

“We started out a little reserved and worked our way back,” Lincoln-Way Central senior J.J. Robinson said of the Knights’ strategy. “I’m super excited to go to state andhope to get a PR there.”

Robinson was 10th overall at 19:17. Madison Smith (14th at 19:38), Elizabeth Venezio (24th at 20:02), Taylor Martinez (26th at 20:08) and Mallory Johnson (27th at 20:09) rounded out the top finishers for the Knights.

Lincoln-Way East qualified for the third straight year. The Griffins were paced byAlyssa Vogt (11th at 19:21), Kristy Dertz (12th at 19:28), Emily Karl (44th at 20:46), Erin Couwenhoven (45th at 20:47), and Anna Conboy (51st at 20:47).

“I was an alternate last year and didn’t get to run, so it’s really exciting,” Vogt said. “The key was working the downhills. We had to push through and trust each other.”

Also advancing as individuals were Joliet West’s Charlotte Youell (16th at 19:52), and Lincoln-Way North’s Abby Casey (13th at 19:29) and Carly Marchal (20th at 19:56).All three are sophomores.

“Going to state again shows how hard I’ve worked,” said Casey, who also qualified last season. “I started at the bottom of the team last year and put in a lot of tears and hard work. I didn’t mind the hills [at the sectional]. I felt strong from beginning to end.”

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