PERU – This season has not gone how Brittany Schwarz imagined her senior cross country campaign going, but Saturday she took several steps in the right direction.
Schwarz has been a standout for Dixon since she was a freshman, but this year was not going her way. Saturday, though, Schwarz ran a season-best time and took seventh place at the Northern Illinois Big 12 meet at Baker Lake.
"That was a season PR on a hard course," said Schwarz, who had a time of 18 minutes, 35 seconds. "I was having some trouble early in the year. Now, I think I'm back.
"My mental state was there. It hasn't been there for a while. I needed this confidence boost, especially going into sectionals."
Schwarz led Dixon to a sixth-place finish in the 12-team meet. Sterling finished ninth.
While Schwarz earned first-team all-conference recognition by finishing in the top 11, Sterling sophomore Mercedes Sanchez and Dixon junior Katie Pitman earned second-team honors. Sanchez finished 17th in 19:20.3, while Pitman was 20th in 19:21.9.
"This was a PR for this year," Sanchez said. "The whole conference thing pushed me more. I just tried to use the hills to my advantage."
The race was not without incident for Sanchez.
"I got a side cramp," she said. "But, pain is temporary; pride is forever. I just pushed through it."
Dixon freshman Clara Thorpe narrowly missed all-conference honors, finishing 25th (19:51.5).
"Brittany and Katie ran really well," Duchesses coach Evan Thorpe said. "They put themselves in position to be right there for qualifying for the state meet. Brittany ran with senior confidence.
"That field was so tough, with several all-staters. She's right there. She's struggled all year, but she's running well now. And, Katie ran better than she has in a long time, too."
1. Yorkville 26
2. Kaneland 65
3. DeKalb 98
1. Kelsey Schrader (DeKalb) 17:30.2
2. Skyler Bollinger (Yorkville) 17:57.6
3. Victoria Clinton (Kaneland) 18:13.2