PEORIA – Being their first time running at the Class 1A State Meet, Rock Falls’ Matt Laws and Morrison’s Koby Brackemeyer hatched a plan to stick together and see where it took them.
“We caught each other right at the beginning,” Laws said, “and we looked at each other and were like, ‘Let’s try to run this together.’”
The duo remained near one another for most of the race before Laws threw in a surge toward the end. Their battle was the closest among the 11 local runners. Laws, a junior, finished 36th with a time of 15 minutes, 44 seconds. Brackemeyer finished 40th in 15:49.
“We tried to keep it together, and run and pack it up a little bit,” Laws said. “I just tried to kick it in the end. I made a move with about 800 to go, and hung on to do something in the end.”
Both Laws and Brackemeyer enjoyed running in the mud and wet grass throughout Detweiller Park’s 3-mile course. The Mustangs sophomore had a small edge on Laws throughout most of the race. Despite falling behind Laws late, he still managed to set a personal best by about 20 seconds.
“I got my goal of sub-16,” Brackemeyer said. “The conditions were actually quite great. I love the weather with it misting, but the only trouble was that it was a little muddy and a little slippery.
“Laws was there, and I decided to stick with him because I knew we were around the same time.”
Dawson Smith led the Rockets with a 15th-place finish in his state debut in 15:17. He beat his sectional time by about 40 seconds.
Newman was shooting for a top-15 finish as a team, and for the fifth time in the past 6 years, the Comets placed in the top half of the field’s participating teams. They finished 12th with 338 points, led by Spencer Mauch’s all-state 22nd-place finish in 15:24. He ran 12 seconds better than he did in last year’s state race, and 1:19 better than the previous Saturday’s sectional race in Oregon.
“I was shooting for all-state, and I hit it,” Mauch said. “I was hoping to break 15:30, and I did that. I’m very happy. I also wanted to get the first mile under 5 minutes, and I did that, too.”
Shay Hafner finished 1 second behind Brackemeyer in 41st. Matt Hodge was 106th for the Comets in 16:37, followed by Ben Sheats (126th, 16:54), Quentin Larson (176th, 17:38), Noah Welty (181st, 17:41) and Lucas Velasquez (204th, 18:41).
“Spencer was top-25, and I’m happy with that. Shay wasn’t too far behind him,” Newman coach Pat Warkins said. “The kids ran well, and my last guy PR’ed. He peaked at the right time.”
Larson has competed at state in each of his 4 years. His finishes have all been within an 18-second window, starting with his best time of 17:32 in his freshman year, followed by a 17:50 2 years ago, and a 17:42 last year.
“I’ve been pretty lucky to be on the Newman team 4 years in a row,” said Larson, who was hoping for a personal best in his final race. “It’s fun to pass down your knowledge from your senior year all the way down to your freshmen.”
Oregon senior Ian Hussung capped his cross country career at state, finishing 55th with a time of 16:02, a personal best despite having trouble navigating through some muddy stretches in the second mile.
“I PR’ed, and the first mile was pretty good,” Hussung said. “I had it under 5 [minutes] in the first mile, but my hamstring acted up around the mud.
“I’m just happy to be down here, finally making it to state my senior year.”