On Saturday, the Lincoln-Way Central girls’ cross country team finished 22nd at the IHSA State Finals. The Knights were led by Merrigan Allen in 45th place in a time of 17:45. It was a PR by 13 seconds and a SB by 22 seconds. This was redemption for Merrigan who was sick when she qualified for last year’s State meet. Merrigan, a junior, has run in the State Finals 5 times between cross country and track. Allen ran the fastest time by any Lincoln-Way Central athlete at the State meet in school history by 12 seconds. Merrigan was All-Conference, All-Regional, and All-Sectional this year. Senior Rachel Baumgartner capped off a great season and cross country career with a PR of 18:06. Baumgartner was the Red Conference and Regional champion. Rachel was All-Conference, All-Regional, and All-Sectional as well. The 3rd finisher for the Knights was junior Catherine Ihrke who ran nearly 3 minutes faster at the State meet this year compared to her last race of sophomore year at Conference. Catherine ran an incredible 36 second PR on Saturday and broke into the 18s for the first time running 18:46. This wasn’t surprising after watching how dedicated and consistent Catherine has been all summer and season long. It was great to watch all of Catherine’s hard work pay off. Junior Colleen Erdman also ran a PR in a time 19:08. Colleen’s start at Sectionals was instrumental in getting the Knights to qualify as a team for State. Colleen has done a great job stepping up as a leader over the course of the season and we look forward to seeing what she can do next season. Freshman Emma Olson ran 19:17, which was a 15 second PR. Emma ran 1 minute 41 seconds faster in Peoria than her first race of the season. Senior Lexy Sams ran close to her PR in 19:23. While it wasn’t the time she wanted, the Knights wouldn’t have made it to State without all of the hard work she put in this season. Sams was hampered by injury early in the season, but ran outstanding races at Conference, Regionals, Sectionals, and State. Freshman Shea Martin ran a PR in 19:53 as the Knight’s 7th runner. Shea will be a lot of fun to watch her progression over the next 3 years, as she’s already dropped 1 minute 48 seconds from the start of cross country to the State finals.