Two Okawville Runners are Headed to Peoria


Jared Juenger, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The Rockets and Lady Rockets Cross Country teams competed in the Benton 1A Sectional on Saturday, October 29. With a trip to the State Meet in Peoria on the line, the runners were ready to run their race. Both teams had been working hard all season for this moment. It was a cooler race with temperatures ranging in the 40s. There were 21 teams competing in the Sectional along with several individual runners. The top six teams and top ten individuals not on an advancing team qualify for the State Meet.

The girl’s race started at 9 am. The Lady Rockets were pushing to earn a spot in the top 6 teams but unfortunately came up short. The Lady Rockets finished in 11th place with 239 points. Freshman Caroline Tepe led the Lady Rockets crossing the finish line in 8th place in 17:59. Lydia Luechtefeld finished 33rd (19:57), Lauren Haacke 60th (20:39), Sidney Charles 93rd (21:55), Sarah Cook 94th (21:57), Megan Rennegarbe 100th (22:21), and Kylie Buehler 101st (22:23). Tepe was the fourth individual qualifier advancing her to the State Meet in Peoria. Anna-Jonesboro took the Sectional win followed by Mater Dei, Carterville, Father McGivney, Pinckneyville, and Freeburg all advancing to Peoria.

The boy’s race followed at 10 am. The Rockets had some nerves at the start line, with the hope of a State Meet in the future. Unfortunately, the Rockets came up short and finished as the 13th-place team. Senior Grant Schleifer once again led the Rockets, finishing in 6th place overall with an impressive time of 15:15. Ryker Obermeier finished 62nd (16:57), Joseph Jansen 78th (17:23), Nolan Frantz 96th (17:59), Zander Hasheider 114th (18:46), Oliver Gaubatz 120th (18:57), and Jared Juenger 127th (19:04). Schleifer finished as the 2nd individual to advance to State. The host team, Benton, won the Sectional followed by Pinckneyville, Freeburg, Anna-Jonesboro, Father McGivney, and Metro-East Lutheran.

Caroline Tepe will make her first trip to State as a freshman. Tepe has medaled at many meets this season, won the Cahokia Conference Meet, and broke the female school record. Tepe has had an incredible season in her freshman year. “It feels amazing to advance to State and represent Okawville. My goal for Saturday is to try to be the top freshman at State” Tepe said.

Grant Schleifer will make his 2nd trip to Peoria, as he qualified last year as a junior. Schleifer also qualified his sophomore year, but there was no State Meet due to COVID-19. The senior had a rocky start to his season with an injury. He recovered and has had a phenomenal season. Schleifer has medaled at several meets, won the Illinois Division in the Cahokia Conference meet and finished 2nd overall, and broke the male school record. After finishing 6th overall in the Sectional, Schleifer had this to say about his run, “It felt great and was definitely one of my better races this year. I am glad I could go into it and come out in the top 10.” With his 2nd trip to state ahead of him, the runner had this to say, “I am just going to go up there and compete as I know how to do. As long as I know I gave it my all, I can live with where I finish.”

Coach Tepe and Coach Schleifer are both really proud of the team’s hard work this season. They pushed them more than ever this season to get to this point. “We cannot take all the credit,” stated Head Coach Val Tepe. “The runners truly worked together as a team. They wanted what was best for their team and they did this by pushing and motivating each other every day.” Cross Country is a very supportive team sport.

Congratulations to the Rocket and Lady Rocket Cross Country teams on a great season! Good luck to Caroline and Grant at the State Meet in Peoria on Saturday, November 5th!

Caroline Tepe
Grant Schleifer