WALNUT – Katie Anderson, Makaley Velazquez and the rest of the Rock Falls girls cross country team didn’t quite have their “A” games on Saturday at the Class 1A Bureau Valley Regional.
The only thing that really matters, though, is they’ll get another opportunity next week.
The Rockets, with 103 points, finished second to powerhouse Annawan-Wethersfield (33), but safely punched their ticket to the Oregon Sectional, slated for Saturday at Oregon Park West. From there, it’s on to the state meet on Nov. 9 at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
Bureau Valley (4th, 112 points), Amboy (5th, 134) and Erie-Prophetstown (7th, 159) also advanced to sectional from a 10-team field.
Anderson placed sixth overall with a time of 20 minutes, 6 seconds over the 3-mile Bureau Valley North Junior High course. She thinks she can go lower.
“I feel like I could have done better,” Anderson said. “I think I just need to focus more.”
Velazquez was the next runner to finish, in 20:09. The next three Rockets were Bailie Smith (22nd, 21:55), Taylor Ashley (35th, 23:05) and Michaela Spreier (47th, 23:40).
Bureau Valley got a big boost with the return of Regan Weidner, who hadn’t competed since the Princeton Invitational in mid-September because of a stress fracture.
Last year’s Class 1A state runner-up finished 17th in 21:28.
“It was rough, but it could have been worse,” Weidner said. “I don’t think this year will be anywhere close to next year.”
Amboy freshman Megan Grady was third with a time of 19:41, but was bested by two A-W runners, Kirstie Ramsey (19:04) and Kaitlyn Cline (19:37).
Grady, the Three Rivers Conference individual champ, admitted to some pre-race jitters.
“I was really nervous, and I felt really sick during it,” Grady said. “I was really light-headed, but I finished. I was like, ‘I can’t walk.’ I had Italian food last night, and I won’t do that again before a race. I felt pretty crummy, so I was amazed how I did when I felt that way.”
Erie-Prophetstown competed without its No. 2 runner, Brooke Remley, who has a bad Achilles, and No. 3 runner Emily Hanover, who has a stress fracture in her knee. Still the Panthers managed to claim the seventh, and final, advancing team spot.
E-P was led by junior Corrie Reiley, who was fourth in 19:53.
“I’m just really happy that our team pulled through and we made it,” Reiley said. “Now we get to go to Olive Garden this week.”
Newman didn’t field a full team, but did have three individuals advance to the Oregon Sectional. They were Teagan McKenna (10th, 20:28), Haley Simpson (12th, 20:44) and Kelsey Simpson (23rd, 21:59).
Top 3 teams
1. Annawan-Wethersfield 33, 2. Rock Falls 103, 3. IVC 106
Top individual: Kirstie Ramsey, A-W, 19:04