Hinsdale Central’s Hardies collects 4th all-state medal
Hinsdale Central senior Jill Hardies crosses the finish line in fifth place at Saturday's Red Devil-Hornet Invitational. | Joe Cyganowski—For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:41AM
PEORIA — Going into Saturday, Jill Hardies was aware that no Hinsdale Central runner had ever medaled four times at the state girls cross country meet.
“I knew that, but it was not a big goal of mine,” Hardies said. “If I had any kind of a decent race, I was hoping that would come.”
Previous runners for the Devils have never been able to settle for a decent race, yet still finish in the top 25 at the state meet all four years.
Hardies now has a school record all to her own.
With an eighth-place finish Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Hardies eclipsed the previous record of three state medals she shared with Elaine Kuckertz. Kuckertz, a 2009 grad, placed ninth in 2006, sixth in 2007 and sixth in 2008.
Hardies ran in pain from a stress fracture in her left foot that prevented her from doing full workouts in the weeks leading up to the state finals.
“I ran a pretty tough race,” Hardies said. “I kicked it in the last 800 and passed a bunch of people.”
She placed 17th in 2009, second in 2010 behind Oswego East’s Ariel Michalek and fifth last season.
Devils coach Mark McCabe said Hardies is the most decorated girls cross country runner in school history.
“She’s an extremely competitive runner,” McCabe said. “I’d say she’s a warrior woman. When it comes to big meets, when it really matters, she’s there to really count on.”
Hardies (16 minutes, 49 seconds) ran 12 seconds faster in a brisk-paced state meet field Saturday than she did in 2011. Winner Madeline Perez (16:02) of Glenbard West clocked the fastest time in state history for any level.
“She was incredible,” Hardies said. “She is one of the top five girls in the nation right now. I couldn’t think of being up with her (with an injury).”
Hardies does not plan on having surgery on her foot and will rest for the next few months. The injury will force her to pass on an opportunity to run in the Nike Midwest Regionals. She ran in the event last year and missed qualifying for the nationals in San Diego by one spot.
“My legs are kind of gone,” Hardies said. “I didn’t feel right running with that amount of pain.”
One of her big decisions in the next few weeks is deciding where to run in college. With one more visit to make, she has narrowed her finalists to Wake Forest, Virginia and Illinois. Senior classmate Meghan McDowell verbally committed a year ago to play volleyball at Virginia and the two have talked about the school.
Hardies was the only senior runner for the Devils, who placed 11th (304 points) at the state meet. Junior Becca Marcotte (83rd, 17:57) will be the top returning runner after missing most of 2011 due to an injury.
“We’ll be a pretty good team in the future,” McCabe said. “We have four of our top five scorers back.”