ROCK FALLS – Bureau Valley girls track coach Dale Donner couldn't hold out any longer.
He stood off to the side as his team posed for pictures under the bright lights at Hinders Field in Rock Falls, but after a few flashes bolted from the cameras of parents, the girls knew something was missing.
The Storm won the Rock Falls Invitational by 18 points Friday, and Donner couldn't resist the calls from his athletes to join in on the photo, and hopped into the back row with a huge smile.
"It's nice to come in here and do what we did," Donner said while clutching the first-place trophy. "I can't pick out a poor event. We jumped well and ran well."
The Storm won the nine-team invite with 148 points, edging host Rock Falls (130). Hall (90) placed third while Riverdale (38.50) took fourth, ahead of fifth-place Milledgeville (38).
Newman (30) took sixth while St. Bede (26), Stockton (22.5) and Polo-Forreston (22) rounded out the bottom three.
Bureau Valley had six first-place finishes en route to its win including one from distance runner Regan Weidner.
The junior won the 3,200-meter run in 13:02.74 and did so nearly 40 seconds ahead of teammate, and second-place finisher, Heather Williams (13:42.13).
Weidner also placed second in the 800 which was a huge confidence boost after battling against her own body for long stretches over the past year.
"I've had shin splints and stress fractures," she said. "I'm still working on healing that but tonight, I'm happy."
Weidner took a month off from running after the cross country season ended in the fall and stuck to a regimen anti-inflammatories and ice. She also taped her feet for added support, wore wraps to compress her legs and has been training on an elliptical machine in order to get back into top form.
"I was feeling them tonight," she said of her legs, "but I'm happy with my time, that's for sure."
Weidner's teammate, Lindsey Hoffert, also impressed Friday and ran in two of the closest races of the invite, both against Milledgeville's Miranda Grisham.
Hoffert edged Grisham by two one-hundredths of a second to win the 200 in 27.25. Not to be outdone, Grisham got her revenge in the 400 when the two were inseparable throughout, once again. This time, Grisham crossed first by the slimmest of margins – one one-hundredth of a second.
"I love running with [Hoffert]," Grisham said. "She pushed me so hard today. I wish we could practice together. She's really great, and when she started to kick it in, I just had to match her."
Grisham also placed third in the 100 and added another win to her successful day with a win in the long jump with a distance of 16 feet, 4 inches.
Missles coach Jason Wroble said that after Grisham missed the state cut in her first 3 years, the senior approached this season with a new competitive fire and her times and endurance has been off the charts.
"She's come in here with a new purpose this season," Wroble said. "She is in better shape this year than at the end of last year which can only mean great things."
Elsewhere, Rock Falls junior Dallas Clevenger had a strong meet, winning the 800 in 2:31.09 and placed second in the triple jump (32-2) by a half-inch.
The jump for Clevenger is two inches off her school-record leap of 34-feet. Both events are new for Clevenger and the instant success has made her the target of distance coach and cross country head coach Mark Truesdell.
Clevenger recorded the triple jump school record after doing the event one time and has been blowing away the competition in mid-distance races. Because of that, Truesdell spent Friday introducing Clevenger to other top runners in the area in hopes they would aide him in his quest to have her come out for the cross country team.
After seeing her natural abilities, Truesdell went all in.
"I need to convince her that she has the ability," Truesdell said. "There are few girls who can run a half-[mile] like that, and I've been trying to get some other girls to talk her into it."
What does Clevenger think of the idea?
"He's been on me about that since freshman year," she said. "I hate running anything long-distance. 800 is as far as I'll go, but it's something he has gotten me to think about more and more."