Jared Schuckman photo at Peoria

Jared Schuckman of team champion University High School took advantage of cool, windless conditions to clock a 3-mile career best of 14 minutes, 47 seconds while finishing second in the Class 1A-2A division of the 63rd annual Peoria Invitational at Detweiller Park on Saturday.

PEORIA — The 63rd Peoria Cross Country Invitational at Detweiller Park was not officially designated as Bloomington-Normal Day, but Intercity runners missed the memo. 

Led by University High School's sweep of the Class 1A-2A boys and girls team titles, Intercity runners turned cool, windless conditions on firm turf into a parade of personal bests. 

The No. 2-state ranked Pioneer boys, paced by runner-up Jared Schuckman, notched five career bests and two season bests while scoring 87 points, 15 fewer than No. 4-ranked Chatham Glenwood in the 41-team field. 

No. 16 Bloomington was third (165) and No. 13 Normal West fifth (202).

For the girls, No. 8 U High tallied 137 to upset No. 7 Mundelein Carmel Catholic by 36. Normal West was sixth (219) and BHS 24th (582) among 32 teams.

In 3A, Normal Community's boys had seven personal bests while the girls had five. The boys placed 17th (482) among 33 teams and the girls 18th (495) out of 29. The big news in 3A was the 3-mile meet record of 13 minutes, 57 seconds set by Sandburg's Dylan Jacobs.

Boys

"The thing I like the most is our pack is closer to where I envisioned us being," said U High coach Lester Hampton. "We need to keep that group behind Jared as tight as possible."

Schuckman motored 14:47 to take four seconds off his old best. Only Sterling's Jack Gebhardt (14:25) ran faster.

"I wanted a better race," said Schuckman, whose mile splits were 4:47, 4:58 and 5:02.

Other Pioneer scorers were Matt Zacharias (14th, 15:20), Harris Porter (19th, 15:28), Dane Alexander (24th, 15:32) and Jackson McClure (28th, 15:44). 

"This is definitely a good stepping stone," Schuckman said. "We still have more we need to do."

Normal West put Charlie Wetzel (9th, 15:11) and Tyler Dunn (12th, 15:16) near the front as all seven Wildcats posted personal or season bests.

"It's amazing how far they've come," said West coach Chad Aubin. "We had to work through the heat the last couple weeks so pushing hard through that gave them the toughness to run well today."

Wetzel was third among sophomores.

"I felt faster than usual, but I thought I was going to die the last mile," said Wetzel, whose previous best was 15:36.

BHS notched seven personal records with Nick Doud (17th, 15:25) and Austin Bicknell (25th, 15:34) leading the way.

"They ran really well," said BHS coach John Szabo. "They've been working hard so we knew they could with the temperatures finally cooling down." 

In 3A, Ajitesh Muppuru led NCHS in 53rd in 15:35, one of the top five times by a junior in school history.

Girls

U High's victory featured five career bests and two season bests. Leading the way was freshman Lyndsey Wolters in sixth (17:59). Winner Shanice Garbutt of Danville ran 17:08.

"It was perfect out," said Wolters, who passed one mile in 5:50 and two in 12:00. 

Also scoring for the Pioneers were Emmy Mussey (12th, 18:22), Mackie Madix (24th, 18:49), Tasha Schuckman (33rd, 18:56) and Riley Madix (65th, 19:36). 

"I've known all year that we've had the potential to have five under 19:00 and Riley is close," said U High coach John Neisler. "We've had a little bit of a mental block this year, the whole team, and we've been working on it. They are starting to get the confidence to run like they can."

Mara Smith ran a season best 18:18 in 10th to lead Normal West.

"I was really excited (today) because it's been so hot and I haven't been having a great season so I knew it's now or never to start running fast times," Smith said.

Most Wildcats were 30 seconds faster than usual.

"They all ran well," Aubin said.

In 3A, NCHS ran without No. 2 runner Anita Cavalcante, who was in a car accident on the way to the bus. She's expected to return. The Iron were led by 30th-placer Justine Parks (18:39), who was third among freshmen. 

Follow Randy Sharer on Twitter: @PG_sharer

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Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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