The IHSA annually recognizes Honorary Officials at the IHSA Cross Country State Finals to honor their contributions to the sport of high school cross country in Illinois.
The 2019 IHSA Cross Country State Finals on Saturday, November 9, 2019 mark the 50th running of the event at famed Detweiller Park in Peoria
. This year's Honorary officials are a historic reflection of the IHSA's partnership in running this event with Peoria High School and the Peoria Park District, and a thank you to all the past student-athletes and employees of both groups who have had a hand in making this event come to life each fall.
PEORIA HIGH SCHOOL
The young people of Peoria High School have made an impact on their school, community and the state since the school first opened its doors in 1856. For the last 50 years, a tradition of service has been carried out annually by members of the Peoria High School cross country program through their preparation and work at the IHSA Cross Country State Finals. Each November, in just three days, they magically transform Detweiller Park into the cross country capital of the country.
Thanks to their hard work, the picturesque park morphs into a cross country mecca able to support thousands of fans, while still providing a top-notch course for the talented runners who traverse it. Given just three days to setup and tear down the course, the Peoria High School students have faced harsh conditions from the Midwest’s unpredictable weather, from searing heat, monsoon like rains and even a blizzard.
So what all goes into preparing the nation’s premier high school cross country state final event?
That checklist includes, but is certainly not limited to:
• Hauling over a 1,000 fence posts & rebar around the course
• Staking those fence posts and rebar into the ground
• Unrolling & stretching miles of snow fence and pennants
• Setting up tents
• Removing walnuts by the ton from the course
• Prepping the starting area, finish area, and awards ceremony stage.
Occasionally, Mother nature adds other responsibilities to their proverbial plates, as they have been forced on more than one occasion to help shovel snow from the course to assure proper footing for the competing student-athletes.
As other IHSA teams reflect on their seasons and accomplishments on Saturday night, the Peoria high team faces the challenge of deconstructing the course on Saturday night and throughout Sunday.
For fifty years, the students of the Peoria High School cross country program have met that challenge. They have taken great pride in the important role they play. They have worked through all kinds of conditions. They have solved problems that arose when doing assigned tasks. They worked together as a team, and their work ethic has been strong. Peoria high could not host this meet without the young ladies and men from the Lion cross country team.
PEORIA PARK DISTRICT
The Peoria Park District has been a long-time partner and friend of the IHSA. The condition of the grounds at Detweiller Park and the many ways in which the park district accommodates the IHSA and our member school cross country programs and communities is a true testament to their pride and loyalty to this event. For half a century, the Peoria Park District has worked tirelessly to assist in successfully conducting the IHSA cross country championships, helping create an aura around Detweiler Park and the state meet that reverberate around the state and country.
“The Peoria Park District is honored to be a part of the rich history of the IHSA cross country state finals in Peoria,” said Peoria Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill. “ We value our partnership with the IHSA and Peoria High School, and are proud to be a part of so many great runners’ memories of this event. We hope we get to celebrate 50 more years!”