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While Fieldcrest has completed a race, the starting gun goes off for Eureka late next week. The following is a capsule look at each school’s squads:

Eureka

In 2018, the girls brought home their first ever state team title. Their 84 points were 39 better than runner-up Rock Falls. Eureka had three earn all-state honors (top 25 or higher) in Illinois State signee Emma Argo (16 minutes, 59 point seven seconds), who claimed her second consecutive one A individual crown, junior Alexi Fogo (14th, 17:46.3) and Tessa Wiegand (24th, 18:12.8). Argo, Wiegand and Lexi Grober graduated.

“Realistically, I think top 10, but it will be determined by seeing how the (first-year) kids progress,” commented head coach Olivia Morris of where this year’s squad can place. “I have not worked with four of the girls. Other teams in the area have lost a lot.”

Fogo figures to zoom up to the number one spot and has a chance to break into the top 10.

“She’s been putting in the work,” said Morris, who is in her third season at her alma mater. “Her strength is not her kick it’s her endurance. Her speed is coming along. She’s staying engaged. She’s excited about this sport.”

Morris added she is looking at somewhere in the low 17s as a time for the junior.

Also are back sophomore Elle Knapp and senior Nora Robinson.

According to Morris, the key to the season could lie with runners four through seven.

“It’ll be very important. More important than shaving time is staying healthy,” said Morris, who has 15 girls out. “You’re wanting to shave off time, but also keep improving.”

The boys reached the state finals and placed 10th, as Kyle Johnson (25th, 15:34.3) attained all-state recognition. Their top returnee is junior Jack Cook, who will try to improve a 39th place finish.

“Top 25 is definitely attainable,” Morris said. “Top 25 is definitely a good goal, but he’s working at paces and times where’s he going for top 20. With him and Alexi, it’s the same thing, staying healthy.”

Also back are junior Mitchell Danner and senior Luke Albertson. One benefit Eureka has is a total of 21 boys on the roster.

“It’s good to have that depth,” said Morris. “The biggest thing (was) our top six were set last year. The seventh changed. This year, we have 10 or 12 guys who could be four, five, six or seven.”

Washington visits Lower Lake Park on Thursday for a 4:30 p.m. dual. The remainder of the schedule is listed as follows:

Sept. 14: First to the Finish Invitational @ Peoria’s Detweiller Park, 9 a.m.

Sept. 21: Dale Donner Invite @ Walnut, 9:30 a.m.

Sept. 28: East Peoria Invite @ Metamora’s Black Partridge Park, 9 a.m.

Oct. 1: El Paso-Gridley Invite @ Furrow Vineyard, 4:15 p.m.

Oct. 5: Elmwood/Brimfield Invite @ Maple Lane Country Club, 9:30 a.m.

Oct. 12: Prairie Central Invite @ Fairbury’s Indian Creek, 10 a.m.

Oct. 19: Eureka Invite @ LLP, 10 a.m.

Oct. 26: Regional

Nov. 2: E/B Sectional @ Maple Lane: girls @ 10 & boys @ 11 a.m.

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Nov. 9: State @ Detweiller

Notes; The Bureau Valley-hosted Donner Invite is named after the former Storm coach, who directed both programs from 1998 to ’18. Argo became the 11th female to win multiple individual crowns. Morris will be away on maternity leave later in the month. Her due date is Sept. 25. Filling in for the first-time mom will be assistant coach Matt O’Hanlon

Fieldcrest

The boys return six of their first seven off a sectional qualifier. Junior Victor Echeveste is the Knights’ number one followed by senior Andrew Gochanour, junior Christian Skaggs and a trio of seniors in Ryan Gochanour, Andy Wiesenhofer and Connor Gochanour, the third of the triplets.

“I’m very excited to have 16 guys this year, which is an all-time high,” pointed out head coach Carol Bauer, who begins her 17th season at the helm. “Six of the seven have mile personal records (PRs) under five (minutes) and based on what I have seen so far, we should be very successful.”

Fieldcrest took third in the regional in ’18 and will try to improve upon a 10th place sectional showing.

At Wednesday’s Morris Early Bird Invitational, Echeveste placed ninth followed by Skaggs (12th), Wiesenhofer (16th), A. Gochanour (26th) and sophomore Mason Stoeger (27th). The Knights (83) were nudged out for the top team spot by a single point at the hands of Pontiac (82) from a pool of 11.

The girls, who also reached the sectional a year ago, will again be fighting a numbers’ game with only six out. They return sophomore Natalie Schultz and junior Kaitlyn Hakes.

The Knights are back in competition Friday with the 4:30 p.m. Twilite in the Woods Invite at Seneca. The rest of the schedule appears below:

Sept. 10: versus Kewanee with Peru St. Bede & Princeton @ Kewanee’s Baker Park, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 14: Gary Coates Invite @ Princeton’s Zearing Park, 9 a.m.

Sept. 17: vs. Ottawa with LaSalle-Peru, Mendota, PSB & Streator @ Ottawa’s Catlin Park, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 21: Dale Donner Invite @ Walnut, 9:30 a.m.

Sept. 25: vs. Putnam Co. & Spring Valley Hall @ Hennepin’s Putnam Co. Conservation District, 4 p.m.

Sept. 28; Herscher Invite @ Limestone Park, 10 a.m.

Oct. 1: EP-G Invite @ Furrow Vineyard, 4:15 p.m.

Oct. 3: Lowpoint-Washburn/Roanoke-Benson Invite @ Roanoke Park, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 5: E/B Invite @ Maple Lane CC, 9:30 a.m.

Oct. 12: Prairie Central Invite @ Indian Creek, 10 a.m.

Oct. 14: Amboy Invite @ Shady Oaks, 11 a.m.

Oct, 15: Heyworth Invite @ Centennial Park. 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 19: Eureka Invite @ LLP, 10 a.m.

Oct. 26: Regional

Nov. 2: Oregon Sectional: girls @ 10 & boys @ 11 a.m.

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