PEORIA – A year ago, Nolan McKenna was in position to grab all-state honors before fading down the stretch to 30th place in the Class 3A state cross country meet.
This time around, the Wheaton Warrenville South senior wrote a different ending.
Coming through the chute with a time of 14:46, McKenna ended his high school career with a 12th place finish at Saturday’s state meet at Detweiller Park.
“Being all-state is a great honor,” McKenna said. “I can’t really be too disappointed. I didn’t have my perfect ideal race, but I ran the best I could for that day.”
His performance helped the Tigers break into the top-10 in the team standings. Wheaton Warrenville South finished eighth with a score of 244.
Luke Schroer was 19th, Kyle Cepeda finished 33rd, David Dillon was 89th and Gabe Lightbody placed 155th for South. Carson Discher (171st) and David Santana (188th) rounded out the group.
“As a team, we could have run a little better all around, but it’s a good field,” McKenna said. “Being in the top-10 [as a team] is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Saturday’s race brought a close to an outstanding season for the close-knit Tigers.
“It is a great group of guys and we became really close,” McKenna said. “It was definitely a lot of fun working with them.”
Next up for McKenna is track season in the spring before he departs for Iowa State University in the fall. He verbally committed to that school in October.
“I feel like it is a really good fit,” McKenna said. “I really like the campus and it’s a new coaching staff this year and it seemed like I clicked with the coaches.”
Joseph Emmanuel grabbed all-state honors with his 14th-place finish in the Class 3A race, helping the Falcons to 22nd place as a team.
Emmanuel came in with a time of 14:52 and was followed by Chris Stopka in 128th place. Also competing for North were Wes Noyes (154th), Danny Steeno (160th), Kilty Askin (195th), Alex Frank (204th) and Ryan Kocher (206th).
Representing the Spartans in the Class 2A event, Andrew Hallet came in 60th place with a time of 15:51 while Nick Vilimek was 89th in 16:02.
The Warriors came in 10th place with a score of 285 in the Class 2A state race.
Brandon Lach topped the squad with his 46th-place time of 15:45. Jacob Robleski was 63rd, Noah Van Dyke finished 68th, Jonah Jones was 99th and Mitchell Smith rounded out the top five in 111th. Also competing were Jimmy Ridge (170th) and Chris Jones (199th).
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Wheaton Warrenville South
A young Tigers squad got much needed experience at the state meet after placing 12th with 318 points at the Class 3A event Saturday.
Sara Atkins just missed out on all-state recognition, placing 28th in 17:46. Allison McGrath was 72nd, Kendall Laveen came in 88th, Natalia Boettcher placed 104th and Emma Schroer was 129th. Stephanie Gorski (132nd) and Mary Erdman (154th) also participated.
Atkins and McGrath are freshman, Laveen, Schroer, Gorski and Erdman are sophomores and Boettcher is a junior.
Competing in the Class 2A race, Meghan McShea finished in 124th place after crossing the line in 19:55.