PEORIA — Intercity boys cross country teams proved during the 72nd annual state meet at Detweiller Park on Saturday what had been suspected.
The Golden Age of Bloomington-Normal distance running is upon us as University High placed second, Bloomington seventh and Normal West 10th in Class 2A.
The previous best Intercity state placings in a single year was a 1-9-22 combination in 1994. BHS and West both posted school-record results.
The Pioneers, No. 1 in the Runnerspace.com rankings, fell to No. 2 Mahomet-Seymour, the defending champion, 91-114. It was U High's 11th state trophy and third runner-up showing.
"Mahomet is just a little too strong up front," said Pioneer coach Lester Hampton after the Bulldogs saw Mathias Powell (4th), Riley Fortune (6th) and Ryan Hodge (9th) run wild. "We couldn't cover that."
Jared Schuckman became a two-time all-stater for U High by placing eighth in 15 minutes. He was one of five Pioneers ahead of Mahomet-Seymour's fifth man.
"I'm really proud of these kids," Hampton said. "I'm really proud of what they've accomplished as a group in cross country and track."
U High's scorers were within 50 seconds of each other compared to the Bulldogs at 70 seconds, but Mahomet-Seymour averaged 15:13 per man compared to the Pioneers' 15:28.
U High's other scorers were Jackson McClure (27th, 15:22), Matt Zacharias (36th, 15:30), Dane Alexander (51st, 15:44) and Harris Porter (55th, 15:49). Their combined time of 77:23 on a rain-slicked course beat the 80:15 by U High's 1994 state champs.
A year ago, U High was third as Schuckman placed 11th.
"The team did a lot better than last year and that's all that mattered," he said. "I was really proud of the team."
No. 10 BHS, which had never placed higher than ninth, scored 252 in seventh while No. 13 Normal West tallied 291 in 10th. The Wildcats' previous best was 17th in 2010.
"It means a lot to the kids," said BHS coach John Szabo. "They've worked really, really hard so I'm pleased and happy for them."
Szabo had told his team he'd shave his mustache for a top-10 finish.
"That's what the bet is so we'll see," laughed Szabo, whose team was led by all-stater Austin Bicknell in 19th with a personal best of 15:14.
The senior's roller-coaster career had him contemplating retirement at one point.
"I just couldn't give it up," he said. "I'm so glad I didn't. It's been a ride, but I wouldn't change any second of it."
West was led by all-stater Charlie Wetzel in 16th in a personal best of 15:10. He was third among sophomores.
"I'm happy because that really was my goal this race," he said. "With the five seniors this year, it was a big thing to get here just because it's one last race for them."
Coach Chad Aubin was thrilled with the Wildcats.
"Hopefully, we can just keep it rolling from here," he said. "This kind of sets the bar for the next crew that comes through."
Senior Blake Jones became the second all-stater in Lincoln history by grabbing 16th in 15:13. He sped 4:50 the first mile.
"My second mile has been awful this year," Jones said. "I had 30-some friends in the back (cheering). I think I moved up seven spots in the back area."
Kaneland's Matthew Richtman won in 14:23.
Dee-Mack 5th in 1A: No. 6-ranked Deer Creek-Mackinaw, 10th in its state debut last year, finished fifth in Class 1A with 197 points.
For the first time, four trophies were awarded. The Chiefs missed one by three points to Monticello. Elmwood won with 150 while Athens' Wyatt McIntyre took the individual title in 14:25.
"They were bummed that they missed a trophy by three points," said Coach Sam Ingram, whose team was led by Gary Cates in 30th with a school record 15:37. Four teammates also had lifetime bests.
The second sophomore was Tremont's Leland Sumer in 20th overall (15:23). Only two other Turks in school history were all-staters as sophomores (Brad Kaufmann and Parker Thompson). Both went on to win state titles.
"I want to win state once in my high school career," declared Sumer.
No. 16 El Paso-Gridley, led by Noah Smith in 48th (15:56), finished 13th (340).