Here’s a first, with a twist.
The boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams from Monticello High School simultaneously vaulted into the No. 1 position in Wednesday’s Class 1A state poll released by the Illinois Track and Cross-Country Coaches Association.
Coach Dave Remmert’s boys were ranked 14th in the preseason and ninth last week. The girls were second in each of the first two ITCCCA polls.
“Going into the season, we only lost one boy from last year (Andrew Hanselman), and they came in with a chip on their shoulder,” said Remmert, whose squad believed it was initially underrated.
The Sages made the huge jump in the rankings based on a stellar championship showing last week at Peoria on the state meet course. Even Remmert was surprised by what he saw from his top five of Matt Norvell, Justin Furcich, Jesse Galaway, Zach Mesplay and Will Montgomery.
“They performed at a level I didn’t expect them to,” Remmert said.
The seed for success for the Monticello girls was based on success last spring in the Class 2A division of the state track and field meet. Four cross-country underclassmen — Emily Foley, Maggie Utgaard, Maddie Tutich and Hannah Houska — placed fifth in the 3,200-meter relay.
“That helped develop the idea they can compete with larger schools throughout the state,” Remmert said.
His cross-country team — which also includes Audrey Duncan in the top five — supplanted three-time defending state champion Decatur St. Teresa in the No. 1 poll position.
“It’s a compliment to be noted in the same breath with them,” Remmert said. “They’ve been a powerhouse, and we’re a developing program.”
Monticello’s girls were second in last year’s Class 1A state meet.
Up next for the Sages is a dual meet Thursday at Kickapoo State Park against St. Joseph-Ogden, whose boys’ and girls’ teams swept to team titles last weekend at Paxton-Buckley-Loda’s invitational.