PEORIA -- Kaneland senior Matthew Richtman had lost to Sterling senior Jacob Gebhart twice this season, including a photo finish at the sectional meet.
The third time proved to be a charm for the Knights' standout.
Under a gray sky and and a fine mist, Ritchman used a late burst with 600 meters remaining and didn't look back in securing the Class 2A state title at Detweiller Park in a time of 14:23.
"I missed the sectional win by inches and that gave me motivation to be one step ahead this week," said Richtman, who finished fourth in Class 2A last season. "The last 50 meters I saw him (Gebhart) come up again, which he did last week, I knew I had to keep the lead this week."
Hinsdale South senior Brett Methner set the tone early jumping out to an early lead, but it became a three-way race with 1-mile remaining with Richtman, Gebhart, and Crystal Lake South senior Jack Becker making separation.
Gebhart took the early advantage, but Becker challenged and made a move with a half mile remaining but Ritchman was up for the challenge.
"I knew it was either now or never," said Becker (14:31), who finished in third place. "But Ritchman came back with another move on me and after that I didn't have anything left.
"Overall I was happy with my race; going into this year I was looking to finish third place or better."
Ritchman stayed in control in the first two miles before switching gears in the final mile.
"He did his thing today -- that last move was something," said Kaneland coach Chad Clarey. "He came here with a mission and I knew he was disappointed last week after leading with 50 meters remaining. It was an epic race for those three all the way. For Matt to come out on top with the character he has was special."
With Ritchman leading the way Kaneland ran to a sixth-place team finish.
"It's excellent there is no other feeling like it," said Ritchman of his big win. "Especially being here with my team this year made it even more special."
Burlington Central sophomore Anthony Farmer also had a big day.
The Rocket sophomore gained early position and then grind it out to earn his first state medal with a 21st place finish crossing the line in 15:16.
"I tried to run as fast as I could and do the best I could and I did," said Farmer, who made a big move in the back loop. "I was very happy. It's a great accomplishment as a sophomore."
Mahomet-Seymour ran to the team title with 91 points, followed by Normal University (114 points) and Sycamore (151 points).
Geneva junior Joshua Rodgers ran to a sectional title last weekend and the Viking junior had no letdown on Saturday in the Class 3A race.
Rodgers jumped out to a nice start and rode that wave of momentum to a 10th-place finish and his first state medal.
Rodgers crossed the line in 14:39.
"It just feels incredible," said Rodgers of his big day. "All summer I had that written on my wall … it's everything I wanted."
The fast start set the tone and held on in the final mile to secure his spot.
"I just had a lot of adrenaline that helped me to the finish," said Rodgers. "It's something I've been thinking about since last year."
"Josh was excited to be all-state," said Geneva coach Bob Thomson. "He is a very hard worker and is dedicated. Mission accomplished."
Lyons Township senior Danny Kilrea ran to the Class 3A state title crossing the line in 14:08 and was followed by Whitney Young senior Clayton Mendez (14:22) and Maine South senior Tommy Brady (14:29).
Downers Grove North took the Class 3A team title with 73 points, followed by defending Class 3A champion Neuqua Valley (149 points), and Wheaton Warrenville South (155 points).
Harvest Christian Academy was looking to defend its Class 1A title but the Lions fell a bit short finishing in third place with 170 points.
Elmwood co-op ran to the Class 1A title with 150 points with Rockford Christian (164 points) taking second.
"They ran hard but just lost too many places in too many spots," said Harvest Christian Academy coach Steven Bland. "It's a fine line at the state meet. You have to get strong position up front but the hard thing is finding out what is hard enough or what's too hard. We may have went out a bit too hard."
Senior Andrew Dobrescu (15:30) earned his second state medal by finishing in 25th place. He was followed by senior Mark Davila (15:32) who took 26th place.
"Our whole team came in super ready and super prepared," said Dobrescu of the Lions' effort. "Last year we came with high expectations and this year we came in with humility and same high expectations. We just didn't race too well."
Athens senior Wyatt McIntyre ran to the Class 1A title crossing the line in 14:25.