Winnebago brings home Class 1A state championship

WINNEBAGO, Ill. (WIFR) There was no doubt Winnebago was one of the favorites heading into the Class 1A girls cross country state meet on Saturday at Detweiler Park in Peoria. What may have surprised some, was just how dominant the Lady Indians were.

Bago won its 13th state championship in program history and first since 2009. The Indians won with 63 points, more than double second place Monticello (144 points).

"It really means a lot. It's fun to see all the hard work that's finally paid off," said junior Natalia Martino.

Winnebago was one of the best teams in the state, regardless of school size. The Indians top five runners finished in the top 20 on Saturday, with their combined time almost a full minute faster than Class 2A state champion Benet Academy.

Martino led Bago with her sixth place finish, clocking in at 17:41.42.

"We started in June, we've gone all the way till November," said Martino. "We've done early morning workouts, late night workouts, when, the conditions were definitely not favorable."

The Indians knew their toughest test would come Monticello, whom Winnebago lost to by five points at the Amboy Columbus Day Invitational in October.

"It's really nice to see all this hard work finally paying off," said Martino. "This was the big event and now we've accomplished what we set out to do."