BARTONVILLE — A pack mentality paid dividends Saturday for the Pekin boys and girls cross county teams.
Five runners on the boys team finished in fifth through ninth places, and runners on the girls team grabbed seven of the top 12 spots against host Limestone and Washington at Alpha Park, Limestone's home course.
The result was victories for both Pekin teams against their Mid-Illini Conference rivals.
The Pekin boys team beat Limestone 25-31 and Washington 20-35. Washington and Limestone tied 29-29, but Washington won the tie-breaker.
The Pekin girls team beat Washington 23-32 and Limestone 15-40. Washington beat Limestone 15-40.
"It was wonderful seeing those five guys run in a pack," said Pekin boys coach Cole Stoner. "They helped each other. The guys in front pushed the other guys, and the guys in back worked hard to keep up. That's the kind of competitiveness we need to get us where we want to go."
Pekin girls coach Allie Jones said her runners "did an amazing job with pack running. They looked strong. I'm proud of them. We're so excited about our upcoming races."
Limestone's Wilson Georges (15:00) and Washington's Jackson Ward (16:05) finished first and second in the boys race.
Then came Pekin's Drae Heiple. He was third (16:09).
Heiple was followed closely by teammates Huston Gillespie (5th, 16:49), Jackson Custer (6th, 16:52), Noah Sivori (7th, 16:53), Jonny Blanchard (8th, 16:56) and Lucas Glense (9th, 17:00). James Keen (14th, 17:50) was the Dragons' seventh-fastest runner.
Lily Wagemann led the way for the Pekin girls team, finishing second in 19:41. Washington's Jadyn Jacobs won the race in 19:31.
Also placing in the top 12 for Pekin were Lauren Filarski (3rd, 20:10), Olivia Wolf (4th, 20:16), JayLynn Riley (6th, 20:26), Emma Cox (8th, 20:37), Elizabeth Deverman (11th, 21:23) and Kylie Oyler (12th, 21:29).
In other Pekin cross country news:
NEXT: It will be Senior Day this Saturday when Metamora comes to Pekin for Mid-Illini meets.
Heiple, Sivori and Russell Sarff are the seniors on the Pekin boys team. Each is a four-year runner, with Heiple and Sarff earning a second team all-conference honor during their career.
"Each one of those guys has stepped up and taken our program in the right direction," Stoner said. "I'm grateful for that."
Wagemann and Riley are the seniors on the Pekin girls team. Each is a four-year runner.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.