By MIKE NESTER
West Carroll's Briar Nevills earned All-State honors with a 20th place finish at the IHSA Class 1A state cross country meet Saturday morning, Nov. 9, at Detweiller Park in Peoria.
"From the start of the season we knew that being all state was a reality for Briar," said Thunder coach Travis Findlay. "For years I've been saying that he is one of the elite runners in Northwest Illinois. To see him prove it at the biggest meet in was an amazing experience."
The junior harrier ran the three-mile course in 15:24.56 against a field of 208 runners.
"Briar did an outstanding job getting out quickly," said Findlay. "The first 400 meters of the race is straight and wide open so it's easy to get caught in a huge pack. He found a group to compete with and stayed up even though they got out so fast. The back portion of the race is where a lot of runners tend to slow down. He was able to stay up in the top 20 pack and finish really strong."
Added Findlay, "Typically Detweiller is a very fast course. We knew Briar's time would be fast but I was so impressed at how he stayed up in the group of top 20 even though he was running fast times then his track times. Briar's open mile was a sub-five minutes and his two-mile was faster than the school record for the 3200."
Nevills advanced to the state meet with a second place finish at the Rock Falls Regional and took fourth at the Oregon Sectional.
"One of the greatest things this season has been watching how smart a racer Briar is,” said Finlday. “We spent a lot of time before even seeing the course talking about areas to make moves and how much a difference this race was going to be. When we worked out on the course Friday, we paid special attention to the start and a couple of straight away areas that the race would open up. I think this to go along with his natural talent put him in a great position to be All-State."
Herscher's Drew Rogers took first in 14:30.49 and Dawson Smith of Rock Falls was the runner-up in 14:44.13.
Eastland's Stephen Reifsteck finished in 98th place with a time of 16:25.85. Monticello won the team title, besting Elgin Harvest Christian by six points.
In the girls 1A race, Winnebago ran away with the team title beating Monticello 63-144.