Geneva's Altmayer takes 11th at state
PEORIA -- Maybe it's the running, and the way the body responds. Cross country runners often appear to have taken their last breath in the moments after crossing the finish line, but a half-hour later, they're ready to do it again.
Geneva's McKenzie Altmayer is an example of that ability to rebound. She finished 11th -- eighth in team scoring to help Geneva to a 12th-place finish in Saturday's Class 3A championship race -- was typically exhausted, and then all smiles not long after.
And quite pleased with not only her place in the field, but how she got there.
"I knew not to go out too hard," Altmayer said. "My coaches said it was OK if I was 20th, just stay calm. So I did that and I ended up with a 5:30 mile, and worked by way up."
Altmayer estimated she was 17th until the final straightaway, which at Detweiller Park inclines -- gradually, unless you've run the better part of three miles at breakneck speed -- the last 600 meters to the finish.
That's where the crafty junior made her move, catching some runners and watching others fade behind her.
"I kicked and picked a lot of people off, I guess," Altmayer said. "I'm really happy with 11th."
Altmayer's time of 17:07 was five seconds off her sectional time, where she finished second.
"My coach was like, 'You got 11th, be happy with it.' I'm happy with it," Altmayer said.
But she admitted feeling pressure because of expectations that rose over the course of the season.
"That was a little nerve-racking, but having my team there, and my family, they calmed me down, so that was great," Altmayer said.
Batavia, led by Emma Stephens (36th in 17:36) was 11th with 304 points, three fewer than Geneva. Both were a long way from winner Naperville North (73), runner-up Palatine (91), or third-place Glenbard West (94).
Audrey Ernst of St. Charles North finished 13th in 17:09, the first half of an uncommon and busy weekend for her. With the IHSA season complete, she left before the awards ceremony to travel to Colorado for an Olympic-length triathlon.
In Class 2A, the 1-2 punch of Aurora Central Catholic's Karina Liz (eighth in team scoring in 17:49) and Abby Fioresi (28th in 18:17) lifted ACC to a 14th-place finish. Rosary's Emily Martin finished 11th in 17:48, with teammate Madison Ronzone 16th in 17:54.