Benton High School junior Mia McLain took third place here Saturday in the IHSA Class A cross country state meet.
McLain was the top runner in the south and teammate Hailey Wallace, a freshman, was the second fastest runner from Southern Illinois. Wallace finished in 47th place. McLain, an All-Stater for the second straight year, toured the Detweiller Park course in 17:26.77. It was also a personal record on that course..
"I'm happy. Third place was a big step from last year. I couldn't have had a more perfect day," McLain said. At the Peoria Invitational, McLain ran the course in 17:34. McLain finished ninth in last year's state finals.
"I ran exactly how I wanted to run. I think the only problem with my strength. Hopefully, I can build that up for next year," she added.
McLain's father, coach Brent McLain, said he is proud of his daughter's showing.
"It was a huge step to run her best race today and get third. It's her best and the best in Benton history. We're excited and happy and our freshman (Wallace) was 47th. That's probably the fourth best placing girl in Benton history."
Gabby Alongi of Du Quoin finished behind Wallace, placing 52nd.
Emma Argo of Eureka led her squad to the team title as the top female performer. Her winning time was 16:59.73. Lydia Roller of Staunton was the runnerup with a time of 17:18.16.
Eureka finished with 84 points, followed by Rock Falls (123) and Tolono Unity (130). Du Quoin finished 17th and Pinckneyville 25th.
Benton High School's boys team qualified for state with a fifth place finish in last week's sectional.
The Rangers placed in the top 20 in the state with a 19th place finish. Junior Joey Sample led the way with a 70th place finish, followed by freshman Chase Owens, who was 102nd, junior Brady Gischer was 124th and seniors Mason Wills and Avery Potter were 14th and 161st, respectively.
"That is a good step in the right direction," McLain said of his boys team. "In 1A, that's the best finish of anybody in Southern Illinois this year so we're happy and excited. It was a great day overall for everybody."
Christopher Collet of Seneca posted the winning time of 14:45.25.
Clifton Central took the team title with 139 points, followed by Elmwood (143), Monticello (189), Stanford Olympia (219) and Urbana (226). Robinson placed sixth.
Isaac Sinn of Sparta was the south's top runner with a 49th place finish.