BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Hononegah Indians have claimed their second NIC-10 girls cross country championship in two years. They topped the field Saturday at the NIC-10 meet at Belvidere High School.
The Indians were expected to be pushed for the championship by Belvidere North, but the Blue Thunder girls team didn’t compete. Belvidere North superintendent Daniel Woestman confirmed to Eyewitness News that the girls were in quarantine following COVID-19 protocols.
So Hononegah ran away with the meet placing five runners in the top 11 and seven runners in the top 17.
Hononegah’s top runner was junior Hailey Henry in third place. Right behind her in fourth was sophomore Indigo Sterud. Senior Lauren Johnston finished in sixth place. Junior Ryanne Bronnimann was ninth and junior Erin Collins was 11th.
“We’re really good at pack running this year, so we just wanted to stay together and push each other to get in front of the person in front of us,” said Henry. “So we did it as a team together.”
Did Hononegah believe it had a shot to win the meet coming into the race?
“Well we did think we had a shot, but there’s a lot of good competition out here still,” said Henry. “Belvidere North unfortunately couldn’t be here. That’s one of the top schools that we were looking to compete with, but we were really glad to see the competition this year.”
It was an extra special conference championship for Hononegah girls coach Darryl Rohrer. This was his final meet as a head coach before retiring.
“I wanted four (runners) in the top ten and they did it!,” said Rohrer. “We were three through, somewhere in the middle there, three, four, six and ten, so I couldn’t be happier. They ran a great race on a very tough, tough day to run.”
The individual champion was Guilford sophomore Michelle Gasmund. She absolutely ran away from the field. Her time of 18:29.20 was 53 seconds ahead of second place finisher Rachel Hilby of Boylan.
“I was trying to PR from what my PR was last year, so I came out here and I did the best that I could do,” said Gasmund who finished third last year while running for Rockford East. “I’m not sure of my time at the moment, but it doesn’t matter because I ran how I wanted to.”
“It (being conference champion) feels very good. You know, I didn’t expect to come in last year in third, but I did and running this, coming in first, it’s just like a life goal. Check it off the list.”
NIC-10 Girls Team Totals
1. Hononegah 33 points
2. Boylan 71 points
3. Auburn 73 points
4. Guilford 97 points
5. Harlem 124 points
6. Belvidere 139 points
7. Freeport 186 points
(Not entered: Belvidere North, Jefferson, East)
NIC-10 Top 5 Individuals:
1. Michelle Gasmund (Guilford sophomore) 18:29.20
2. Rachel Hilby (Boylan Senior) 19:22.88
3. Hailey Henry (Hononegah Junior) 19:24.87
4. Indigo Sterud (Hononegah sophomore) 19:25.67
5. Nina Fiore (Belvidere freshman) 19:28.02
Highlights coming later tonight at www.mystateline.com and on Fox 39 and WTVO 17.