Lady Panthers post best finish since 2000

Bryan Veginski
Helping with a big achievement: Washington sophomore Alyssa Johnson, right, races in the Mid-Illini Conference girls cross country meet Friday at Detweiller Park. Johnson was the Lady Panthers’ No. 4 finisher on a team that placed third with 79 points.

Girls ascend to third, boys eighth in finale

The Washington girls cross country team came through with a powerful performance.

With 79 points, the Lady Panthers finished third Friday at Detweiller Park in the Mid-Illini Conference meet for their best showing since the 2000 season.

“It’s quite an improvement from last year,” WCHS girls head coach Troy Walcott said. “We’re excited.”

Junior Carolyn Riedel was seventh for Washington in a time of 19:16.38. One spot behind her was sophomore teammate Julia Williams in 19:23.35.

Both girls will earn first-team all-conference acclaim.

“Our top-two girls really came through,” said Walcott.

Two other Lady Panthers, Rachael St. Clair (22nd) and Alyssa Johnson (28th) also were in the top 30 for Washington.

Rounding out its top five was Kathleen O’Brien in 34th overall.

Washington, which placed sixth in 2008, was 16 points ahead of fourth-place Pekin.

By a 47-50 margin over second-place Metamora, East Peoria made it five straight conference championships.

Dunlap placed fifth on the girls’ side and Morton was relegated to the basement.

Two of the top-five runners were from Canton, but the Lady Giants do not have enough members for a team for the second year in a row.

Emma Preston of East Peoria was the individual winner, 12 seconds in front of runner-up Leah Brooks of Dunlap.

Boys cross country

Washington was eighth Friday in the Mid-Illini Conference meet, although it closed the gap considerably on seventh-place Limestone.

The Panthers’ 194 points was just 12 behind the Rockets, a substantial improvement from last year’s separation of 110.

In 16th place in a three-mile time of 16:29.68, senior Andrew McGraw was the Washington leader at Detweiller Park.

McGraw’s effort will land him a second-team all-conference position.

Panthers Spencer Wilson (45th), Robert Riedel (48th) and Louie Manzella (49th) all were in the top 50 overall.

In 52nd pace, Jake Castor closed out the Washington top five for the day.

Metamora registered its eighth consecutive conference crown.

Dunlap was second, East Peoria third and Canton fourth.

Pekin wound up in fifth place and Morton sixth on a chilly, but calm afternoon.

In an exciting ending, Johnny Crain of Dunlap edged Metamora’s Stephan Rauh by about a half-second.

Postseason: Washington is part of the eight-team Class 2A Notre Dame Regional at Detweiller Park.

The girls’ race is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, with the boys to follow at 10:30 a.m.

The top-five teams and top-five individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the East Peoria Sectional.