NORMAL - Edwardsville's standout sophomore runner Riley Knoyle finished fifth overall, and it was enough to help the Tigers place fifth as a team in a closely-contested Illinois High School Association Class 3A girls cross country sectional meet on Saturday at Maxwell Park in Normal.

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The team championship went to Lockport Township, who had 68 points, edging out Yorkville for the title, with the Foxes placing second with 70 points. Host Normal Community and Minooka tied for third with 130 points each, with the Tigers placing fifth with 132 points, Frankfort Lincoln-Way East was sixth at 162 points, O'Fallon was seventh with 171 points, New Lenox Lincoln-Way Central came in eighth with 204 points, Quincy was ninth with 224, and New Lenox Lincoln-Way West placed 10th with 255 points.

Pekin came in 11th with 306 points, 12th place went to Homewood-Flossmoor with 326 points, Plainfield North was 13 at 335, Bolingbrook came in 14th with 392 points, and Tinley Park Andrew was 15th with 397 points.

Knoyle's performance was a big highlight of what Edwardsville head coach George Patrylak called a complete team effort all day.

"Riley did really well, finished fifth," Patrylak said. "and she was in contention all the way, so she had a solid race. Maya (Lueking) was our second runner, and Dylan Peel was fifth in the second heat. And probably what impressed me most overall was we had people place in every heat."

The overall race was run in four heats, and all the Tiger runners performed well, with both Kaitlyn Loyet and Olivia Coll both standing out in their heats as well.

"In the third heat, Kaitlyn ran really well," Patrylak said. "Last year, she was 72nd in the sectional, but this year, she was over a minute faster than last year, and finished 34th. And between her and the final heat, Olivia Coll ran the race of her life and finished 35th."

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It was a very impressive showing for the entire team, and Patrylak was very proud of his runners.

"Really proud of the girls' performance today," Patrylak said. "We knocked off two teams in the state's top 25, and we were two points off two teams in the top 20. Obviously, there's a couple of places where the girls thought they could have done better, but it was a total team effort."

The individual champion was Normal Community's Ali Ince, who had a time of 17:46.61, with Peyton Schieppe of O'Fallon the runner-up at 17:53.96, and Alyssa Elliott of Belleville West third with a time of 17:57.35. Fourth place went to Gabby Kics of Minooka, who came in at 17:58.57, with Knoyle fifth at 18:01.37, sixth place went to Quincy's Anna Schuering at 18:04.79, coming in seventh was Kayla Shea of Lockport, with a time of 18:09.26, the eighth-place runner was Caroline Schoen of Homewood-Flossmoor, with a time of 18:11.11, and a pair of Yorkville runners --- Hailey Simmons and Helena Kieronomos --- finished out the top ten, with their times being 18:12.04 and 18:28.04 respectively.

Along with Knoyle's fifth-place finish, Maya Lueking came in at 19:21.39, Loyet's time was 19:31.50, with Coll coming in at 19:32.04, Peel had a time of 19:42.42, Whitney Dyckman's time was 19:55.14, and Makenna Lueking came in at 20:00.71. In addition, Granite City's Lacey Kunz, running as an individual, had a time of 19:57.33.

The IHSA's state meet, which is traditionally run at Detweiler Park in Peoria, was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but ShaZam Racing of Peoria is planning an unofficial state meet, which is tentatively scheduled for next Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 7-8, at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, located just outside of Peoria. Patrylak feels that Knoyle will compete as an individual, but is hopeful that the entire team will be able to go to the meet as well.

"Riley will definitely make it individually, but I'm hoping they do the right thing and take the top five teams from the sectional," Patrylak said.

And although Patrylak can't coach the Tigers, he'll be there just the same.

"Obviously, I can't coach this coming weekend," Patrylak said. "But I'll be there as both a dad and a fan."

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