Not counting alternate runners for the Minooka girls Class 3A cross country team, the area will have 10 representatives running at Detweiller for the IHSA state cross country meet Saturday morning.
In what has grown to be an annual tradition, the Indians will be making the trek for the sixth straight season. The boys’ string of five straight seasons ended this fall, however will still be represented by junior Gabe Ceballos.
Those from the area not wearing Minooka brown and orange this weekend will be freshman girls runner Daly Galloway of Gardner-South Wilmington and sophomore boys runner Ross McCormick of Seneca. All have qualified following successful attempts in sectional competition last Saturday.
Minooka coach Kevin Gummerson, GSW coach Larry Lane and Seneca coach Kim Sedlock all made mention of how significant it is seeing their schools represented at state this year.
“Ross deserves to be racing in the state meet this year. He has worked hard in the offseason and the regular season,” Sedlock said. “During practice, he nails his training times, does his workouts the correct way, never complains and leads by example. He is proof that hard work and dedication leads to success. We are looking forward to seeing him with a state medal on Saturday afternoon.”
McCormick advanced to state after finishing 13th overall at the Oregon Class 1A Sectional with a time of 16:34 and he was seventh at the Seneca Regional with a time of 18:03.
Joining him on the boys side will be Ceballos. The Minooka junior was second at the Normal Community Class 3A Regional with a time of 15:43 and he then made the state cut by finishing 17th at the Edwardsville Sectional with a time of 16:33.
“Gabe has had a great season and has started to believe that he can run a quality three-mile race,” Gummerson said. “He has done a tremendous job of putting himself up front early, and then demonstrating a tremendous amount of strength over the second half of the race. He realizes that this is going to be the fastest race he has ever been a part of and his is ready for the challenge.”
Ceballos will be there with the entire Minooka girls squad as it is enters the state meet flying high.
“This girls team is running extremely well right now,” Gummerson said. “They seem to be getting better each and every meet.”
Minooka won the Normal Community Regional with a team score of 21 and then turned around and won the Edwardsville Sectional with a team score of 39. The team is represented by freshman Ashley Tutt, freshman Mackenzie Callahan, senior Caleigh Beverly, sophomore Morgan Crouch, senior Kaitlyn Chetney, senior Haley McNamara and senior Moria McAsey.
“We have an experience group of upperclassmen that have all experienced success at Detweiller Park,” Gummerson said. “Then we have a group of underclassmen that are running like veterans right now. They want to go down to state and run the best possible race they can. I am extremely confident that this group of girls is going to go down there and put together an impressive state meet performance.”
Finally, joining the girls down at state will be the freshman Galloway from Dwight who is running with GSW colors on through the co-op. She won the McNamara Class 1A Regional with a time of 18:57 and she was second at the Lisle Sectional with a time of 19:40.
Galloway ran for the first time at Detweiller Park three weeks ago and had some success there, Lane said.
“Our last regular-season meet is an invitational down at Detweiller. Peoria Heights Invitational. She’s raced the course and she won on it,” Lane said. “She actually ran away from the girl who was in second place [Kirstie Ramsey] over the last 100 meters. They were basically even with 800 to go and she won by 14 seconds that day. Right there shows you what she can do there in the last half-mile of a race.”
Then again, Saturday’s atmosphere is likely to be a little different with more than 200 teams and more than 1,000 participants ready to run for the state’s top prize.
“I haven’t really told her anything about it. We’ll talk about it when we get down there on Friday,” Lane said. “I just don’t want to put too much in her head too soon. I like to keep it low-key for the kids because I want them to be relaxed and have a good time.”
The Detweiller course is open to all runners at 8 a.m. Saturday. Galloway and the 1A girls will be kicking things off at 9 a.m., and Ceballos and the 3A boys will be concluding the day with the final race at 2 p.m.