The Chester High School girls cross country season came to a close at the Class 1A Benton Sectional on Oct. 28, as the Lady Yellow Jackets did not advance to this weekend's state meet at Peoria's Detweiller Park.
The top five schools and top seven individuals move on to Peoria. Nashville won the meet with 95 points, while Chester finished 11th.
Benton sophomore Amelia McLain was the sectional champion with a time of 17:33.6.
"Going into the meet, we knew it was going to be tough to qualify as a team due to our knowledge of the other participating teams," said Chester coach Curt Gilpin. "Competition was fierce.
"We did have high hopes of having people qualify as individuals, however, this year there were so many great individual runners not associated with teams that the field of individual qualifiers was greatly limited."
Seven of the top 10 runners were individuals, making it even more difficult for Chester to advance.
"I couldn't be more proud of our entire team," Gilpin said. "Everybody ran well and gave it their all.
"Our effort was there and almost everybody turned in a best time of the season. It just wasn't our day."
Jessica Kattenbraker was Chester's top finisher, crossing the line in 15th place with a time of 19:11.
"I naturally had high hopes of having a season-best time today and really wanted to qualify for state," she said. "It was extremely cold, however, and I just didn't run the best."
Chester's second finisher was Taylor Dunning, who finished 42nd with a time of 20:08. She turned in a time of 21:53 a week earlier at the Carterville Regional.
"I had hoped to make it to the state meet this year, but it was just too cold (Saturday)," Dunning said. "(Friday), it was almost 20 degrees warmer and I made the bad decision to not wear any warm clothes under my running shorts and singlet.
"I even threw off my gloves. I just felt trapped in all that clothing. As a result, I never could get warm and run well."
Other runners for Chester were Avery Runge (86th, 21:32), Addie Blechle (110th, 22:46), Shea Petrowske (120th, 23:54), Breanna Brigham (129th, 24:33) and Elizabeth Soellner (131st, 24:38).
Both Kattenbraker and Dunning were asked their feelings on competing in their final high school cross country meets.
"It was my final meet and that made me sad," Kattenbraker said. "Both the boys and girls teams practiced together and got along great."
"I didn't accomplish what I had intended," Dunning said. "I wanted to make it to the state meet and I wanted to end my career with a personal-best at state.
"I am sure going to miss being with the team."
Dunning hopes to compete at the college level next year wherever she goes to college. She will play basketball this year for coach Pat Knowles and will run with the CHS track team next spring.
Kattenbraker is undecided regarding running cross country at the college level. She will not play basketball this year at CHS, but plans to train indoors for track and field and will compete during the indoor track and field season.