S.H.S. XC compete in Peoria Invite


S.H.S. girls cross country pose for a group picture before they compete in the race. This annual trip is one that both the boys and girls cross country teams look forward to.

 Every year, boys and girls cross country travel to Peoria to compete in the Peoria Invite. The two teams leave a day before the race and check into a hotel, so by the day of the race, they are already in Peoria. 

  The course is located north of Peoria at Detweiller Park and this year Illinois High School Association (IHSA) celebrated 50 years of running the course here. It is a three-mile course over a broad and fairly flat field. The course starts slightly downhill at the south edge of the park. 

  The runners have to make a full circle around the field for the first mile. Then, they go into a separate field to complete their second mile. For the final mile, the runners complete a lap and a half around the main field and to the finish line. The course could be considered a little tough because throughout the course are a lot of trees that the runners have to dodge.  

  Once again, Sterling’s cross country team found success at the Peoria Invite this year. Six students set personal records there, including junior Dale Johnson, who placed third, junior Jordan Britt, who placed 45th, and junior Parker Janssen, who placed 59th. For the girls, senior Kylie Nicklaus beat her season’s record and placed 79th, freshman Laney Zuithoff placed 119th and sophomore Connie Ibarra placed 147th. Both Zuithoff and Ibarra beat their overall record times. Junior Rhylee Wade did not beat her personal record, but she was the first Sterling girl to finish, receiving 41st place.

  Preparation for this challenging course is something that the coaches specifically focus on.

 Cross Country coach Megan Grady said, “We are very lucky that our home course is similar to the course at Detweiller Park in Peoria. The girls had been doing workouts at Hoover for the majority of the season, and we made sure to talk about what parts of the Peoria course to visualize during workouts so they can be better prepared. We had both seasonal and lifetime bests come out of our race in Peoria. It is a huge meet, so I was proud of how the girls handled racing in a large field.”

  Sterling had a meet at this course earlier in the season, and almost everyone that made a personal record shaved off time from the first time they ran. Johnson shaved off 55 seconds. Britt did not run at the first meet, but his time was 16 minutes and three seconds, and Janssen shaved off 45 seconds. Nicklaus shaved off two minutes and 57 seconds, and Zuithoff shaved off four minutes. Ibarra did not run at the first meet, but had a time of  21 minutes and 29 seconds. 

  Overall the Sterling teams did really well; the boys placed 20th out of 41 teams, and the girls placed 14th out of 34 teams.