The Illinois High School Association celebrated 50 years
of the IHSA Cross Country State Finals being run at Detweiller Park in Peoria on Saturday, November 9, 2019, in conjunction with its partners at Peoria High School and the Peoria Park District
The festivities added a special aura to an event that is already regarded as one of the top races in the country.
Hersey High School’s Josh Methner turned a memorable afternoon into a historic one, as the senior navigated the three-mile course in a record-setting time of 13:49.86 to win the Class 3A crown.
Methner was the defending Class 3A state champ, but few expected him to challenge, none the less break, the course record of 13:50.6 set by future Olympian Craig Virgin from Lebanon High School in 1972.
Virgin, a two-time IHSA champion (1971, 1972), ran the course in the then record-time of 13:50.6 as a senior. The almost 50-year old record had taken on mythical proportions throughout the years, as many wondered if it would ever fall. Sandburg’s Tom Graves (1977) , Neuqua Valley’s Chris Derrick (2007) and Sandburg's Lukas Verzbicas (2010) were state champs who all came within eight seconds of the famed number.
Virgin was in attendance and posed for photos with Methner afterward.
"It meant a lot to me," Methner told the Daily Herald
after the race. "I gave it my all in the last mile. At that point I just put my head down and really just grinded the rest of the way. It all came together fortunately. I don't normally tear up, but I got a little teary-eyed. Very special moment after the race.”
A University of Notre Dame commit, Methner won the 2018 state meet with a time of 14:11.50.