ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) While the nickname the Musteagles sounds made up, it is. A group of middle school cross country runners pushed the Eisenhower Eagles and Maria Montessori Mustangs together and it turned into a winner.
"We've raised the bar to get them to perform and we expect a lot of them and we tell them that and they've stepped up and done it," said Musteagles head coach Scott Burley.
The bar is nowhere to be seen after the combined Eisenhower and Maria Montessori boys and girls cross country teams became the first to qualify for state.
For eighth grader Hanna Holmes, it's an accomplishment everyone can get behind.
"I think it's cool that we're the first people to go as a team because it kind of gives other schools something to strive for and it's something that our whole community can work for," said Holmes.
"They have fun, they take leadership within themselves, they listen to me as a coach and they just make me want to be here because they have such a drive to them," Burley said.
That drive led the boy's team to a sectional victory with Eisenhower eighth grader Brandon Lawson leading the entire field, but he credits his win to the entire team.
"That was my goal was to get first at sectionals and to have that accomplished feels great," said Lawson. "You have to work all together to be good. If you're an individual, you're not going to have as much success as if you work together."
Just like the boys, the girls are working together and having tons of fun while finishing as runner-up at sectionals.
Montessori eighth grader Madison Harmsen says it's the friendships that are pushing the Musteagles to their limit.
"We all have great conversations during running, we're always laughing and we stay as a herd especially during races and it's just really fun and relieving of stress for me," said Harmsen.
The Musteagles run at state in Bloomington this Saturday.