Huntley’s Ian Geisler held the loftiest of goals coming into his senior cross country season, that of finishing in the top 10 in the Class 3A boys race at the IHSA State Meet.
Geisler notched the highest finish in school history when he finished fourth in the state meet Saturday at Peoria’s Detweiller Park in 14:24.94.
Prairie Ridge’s girls team started the season with far more meager expectations and five new runners among its top seven, but the Wolves ended up in the same spot they were last year. Prairie Ridge took third place in Class 2A with 179 points, just two behind second-place Lakes.
In the Class 2A boys race, Marian Central’s Peter Walsdorf took 11th and his teammate Ryan Jones was 15th. In the Class 2A girls race, Marian’s Siobhan Stoll had the best finish among local runners at eighth, while Crystal Lake South’s Bella Gonzalez was 10th. Prairie Ridge’s Colette Janik was 16th and Rylee Lydon was 22nd.
Crystal Lake South’s Mackenzie Aldridge (29th) and Crystal Lake Central’s Kylie Smith (31st) just missed making All-State (top 25). South finished sixth as a team with 217 points.
Geisler’s fourth-place finish was the highest for a boys area 3A runner since McHenry’s Jesse Reiser won the 2014 Class 3A state title.
“It was a great way to end my senior year,” Geisler said. “The first mile I wanted to go out with the top guys. The second mile I wanted to put myself in better position and not get caught up with anybody making moves. I didn’t panic. I knew my speed would get me back in.”
Geisler said he passed three runners in the last half-mile to move into fourth.
“It’s amazing,” said Geisler, who will sign this week with Iowa. “Not just for me, but for the school as a whole. It sets up a great future with coach (Matt Kaplan) knowing how to train other successful athletes.”
Cary-Grove’s Maxum Caesar finished 67th in the 3A race. McHenry’s team, led by Jessi Garcia in 93rd, took 20th as a team.
In the Class 3A girls race, Huntley took 19th as a team, led by freshman Molly Allen in 34th place.
Prairie Ridge coach Kelly MacDonald had no idea how good her team would turn out to start the season. Only Allie Klauser and Alaura Busch returned from last year’s third-place state team and No. 1 runner Chelsea Gale, a two-time All-Stater, was injured and told the team right before the season started she could not run.
“Going in, I thought we’d be around seventh to ninth, realistically,” MacDonald said. “I don’t know how they do it. I don’t even know what to say. It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced in cross country.”
MacDonald showed the girls in video where they were with a mile to go, then again with 400 meters to go. It illustrated how much they moved up in the final mile.
“I had a sneaky suspicion,” MacDonald said. “If they have a decent start, move up and then close like that, there’s an outside chance.”
Stoll started the season by winning the McHenry County Meet and ran strong the entire season. Gonzalez, a freshman who won the Fox Valley Conference Meet, just kept getting better throughout the season.
“I was really happy with how the race went because I wanted to stay in the top 10,” Stoll said. “The weather was really good today, so that helped a lot.”
Walsdorf and Jones ran together in most races through the season and again were only a few seconds apart on Saturday. Walsdorf finished in 15:12.67, Jones in 15:18.91.
“The first mile was really fast,” said Walsdorf, making his first state appearance. “I didn’t want to take it out too fast, but I also didn’t want to get too far behind the top guys. It worked out in the end. The last mile felt pretty rough, honestly. I was pretty tired. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was, but I passed a few guys and got close to top 10.”
Jones, a four-time state qualifier, grabbed back-to-back All-State honors.
“It’s really cool,” Jones said. “I love competing down at state. To be able to be All-State twice in a row is a wonderful feeling. My plan was to hold back and not wear myself out in the first mile. In the last mile, I was seeing how many (spots) I could move up.”
Girls Cross Country
Local All-State runners
Class 2A : 8. Siobhan Stoll (Marian Central) 17:42.42; 10. Bella Gonzalez (Crystal Lake South) 17:46.54; 16. Colette Janik (Prairie Ridge) 17:50.10; 22. Rylee Lydon (PR) 17:56.98.
Boys Cross Country
Local All-State runners
Class 2A: 11. Peter Walsdorf (MC) 15:12.67; 15. Ryan Jones (MC) 15:18.91.
Class 3A: 4. Ian Geisler (Huntley) 14:24.92.