PEORIA – With about 2,000 meters left in the Class 1A girls state cross country race, Regan Weidner decided to go all trained sniper on the field in front of her. The Bureau Valley sophomore picked off nine runners over that remaining distance Saturday morning at Detweiller Park to take second place, a 19-spot improvement over her finish as a freshman. She went in with a goal of cracking 18 minutes, and posted 17:45, 21 seconds behind St. Teresa senior Ivy Handley. While Weidner simply wanted to make the top 10, her coaches urged her she could be top-five if she hit her time goal. Weidner moved up from 17th at 2,000 meters to 11th as the runners approached the final loop of about 2,000 meters that wraps around the grandstands and starting line. That’s when her coaches’ predictions started to have influence. Ahead of Weidner were four runners. A cerebral snowball started rolling. “I knew they meant the top 10. And I figured if I got in front of them, I’d be in sixth,” Weidner said. The snowball got bigger. “With 1 mile to go, it hit me that I only had 1 mile left to go,” Weidner said. “I just decided to pick off each girl as best as I could one-by-one.” Throughout her cross country career, Weidner’s built a mental catalogue of the girls she knows she should beat, as well as those who … well … she isn’t quite so sure about. With half a mile left, Weidner saw St. Teresa junior Rachel Devereux about 30 meters ahead. “That blew my mind” Weidner said. “I thought she and Ivy would be going at it for the win. I could’ve settled for third, but I didn’t want to. When I saw her in my sights, I was just thrilled, and I knew I had to try to pick her off. “I felt good, so I just went for it.” By that point, the snowball had reached mammoth proportions. Weidner overtook Devereux and edged her by a second. Moments later, she fell into a long, tearful embrace with her mom at the end of the chute. “That felt amazing, and I was so happy I just started to cry,” Weidner said. “I saw all my friends and family coming at me, and that was the best feeling in the world.” There were few dry eyes in the Bureau Valley camp. Coach Dale Donner couldn’t hold back the water works as he saw Weidner scorch the soggy homestretch. “I had tears coming out of my eyes as I watched her,” Donner said. “You get so close and put in so much time in. You basically spend more time with them than their parents the past 3 months.” With Handley graduating, Donner admitted the gears were already turning for a title bid in 2013. “We’ve gotta keep her healthy,” he said. “She’s bought into everything, worked so hard, and I’m just so proud of her. You’re not going to find a harder worker than Regan.” Hunter, Reiley set personal marks: In her fourth year at the state meet – her first flying solo – Oregon senior Shelby Hunter placed 67th (19:06), besting her 81st-place finishes in 2009 and 2011. Hopefully she watched her step down the homestretch. In setting a personal record of 19:05 (65th), Erie-Prophetstown’s Corrie Reiley got sick three – yes, three – times in the final, slightly uphill stretch. Whereas the sophomore lost her Cinnabon cereal breakfast before the sectional meet, not so at state. “I was more nervous at sectionals,” Reiley said. “I was more relaxed, knowing I really didn’t have anything to lose. I could just go out there and give it all I had.” But even a timely dose of Pepto Bismol couldn’t counteract Reiley’s pedal-to-the-metal mentality. “Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t,” E-P coach Elizabeth Green said. “She’s always been one of the most aggressive, tenacious kids I’ve ever met.”
Weidner makes big-time moves, takes second in 1A
In her sights
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