PEORIA -- The last 150 meters of the girls state cross country course at Detweiller Park is as imposing as it is unforgiving.
But Victoria Clinton had more than enough cushion to conquer the closing stretch of the unnerving finish.
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The Kaneland sophomore, after creating separation from three fellow competitors of the girls Class 2A state meet Saturday morning, made history by becoming the first athlete, male or female, in school history to claim an individual state championship in the sport with her time of 16 minutes and 56 seconds.
Galesburg senior Stephanie Saey was 11 seconds and at least 75 meters behind Clinton in placing runner-up.
"It was just a blessing to be able to run," Clinton said after her unprecedented triumph for the school. "Going into the race, I wanted to feel out my competitors for the first mile."
Sensing an extra gear, Clinton pulled away from Saey and fellow pursuers Maryjeanne Gilbert (Peoria Notre Dame), Sami Staples (Crystal Lake Central) and Skylar Bollinger (Yorkville) on the inward third of the 3-mile course.
"I could hear them breathing heavily behind me," Clinton said.
Clinton powered the Knights to a sixth-place finish as eight points separated four teams for the final trophy.
Yorkville (66 points) defended its team state championship behind three top-ten runners; Normal U-High (112) was nearly doubled up for second, while Montini denied Glenbard South on the tiebreaker for third place.
"(Individual) state champs are few and far between (at Kaneland)," Knights coach Doug Ecker said. "(Clinton) is just so smart -- and she listens."
Freshman Brianna Bower and junior Sydney Strang narrowly missed all-state consideration with their 28th- and 34th-place results.
Aislinn Losdwig and Amanda Lesak completed the Knights' scoring.
"I thought we had a chance (to get a team trophy)," said Bower. "I feel like I did really well."
Strang was a making a second straight state appearance.
"I was just coming here to have fun and have a good race," Strang said. "I was going to make (up for a slow start) in the second half of the race."
Bartlett native Kate Roback (15th) was all-state in leading St. Francis' 14th-place team result.
In the Class 3A competition, Geneva sought to return to its glory days of back-to-back state titles.
McKenzie Altmayer was 25th among competing team members to highlight the Vikings' sixth-place finish.
"We made it a point (as a team) not to come out too fast," Altmayer said. "It was a great experience to be able run here as a freshman."
"Sixth place is a lot higher than we thought we would get," said Geneva assistant coach Sophia Michalek.
The Vikings also received scoring contributions from Brooke Nusser, Kathryn Adelman, Sydney Geils and Marin Leone.
St. Charles North, which finished 17th, was led by junior Ashley England.
"I wanted to get fast out to start," said England, making a third straight berth. "That was my best time (17:29) all year, so it was a nice way to end my season."
At-large qualifiers Toree Scull (St. Charles East) and Dakota Roman (Batavia) finished 31st and 56th, respectively.
Naperville North won its fifth team title in program history, overshadowing Glenbard West champion Madeline Perez shaving 20 seconds off the state record (16:02) for the third-place Hilltoppers.