The Downers Grove South girls cross country team is no stranger to the IHSA State Meet. When the Mustangs travel to Peoria this weekend, it will mark the 5th consecutive and 12th overall trip for the entire varsity team to compete at the Illinois State Meet.
This tradition began back in 1983 when DGS qualified and placed 7th as a team. That team was led by freshman, Christine Slabich, who placed 17th as an individual, earning all-state honors. Christine Slabich continued to be a key DGS runner when she led the Mustangs back to State in 1984 and 1985 where the team finished 8th and 5th respectively. The 5th place finish is the highest finish ever for DGS at the State Finals. Slabich also earned individual all-state recognition both of those years, improving to 12th place in 1984 and eventually 9th place in 1985 (the 2nd highest finish ever for a DGS runner at State).
In 1987, during her junior year, Becky Mizener qualified as an individual and placed 15th to earn all-state honors. The following 3 years proved to be outstanding years to be a Mustang. In 1988, the team qualified and finished in 6th place, helped by 2 all-state finishes. Mindy Sick and Tina Stec (both juniors at the time) placed 7th and 23rd overall as individuals. Mindy’s 7th place finish is the highest individual finish ever for a DGS runner at State!
Tina came back in 1989 to lead DGS to equal the best ever team finish (5th place) with her 13th place individual finish. Sophomore, Julie Klinkenberg joined her as an all-state runner in 1989 with her 18th place finish. The entire team returned again in 1990 to place 6th led by a top 40 trio of juniors in Melinda Wagner – 33rd, Julie Klinkenberg – 35th, and Myrna Cantu – 36th. In 1991, Myrna Cantu came back as a senior to place 12th overall and earn all-state recognition.
The Mustangs suffered a drought of state qualifiers until 1998 when Carly Nuzbach qualified as an individual her senior year and finished in 69th place. She was followed by Melissa Malter‘s 109th place finish as a sophomore in 2000. It was in 2001 that the Mustangs finally returned to the State meet as a team and finished in 21st place. Ashley Jones (Sr) led the team with her 108th place finish. Melissa Malter competed at State for the 3rd year in a row when she individually placed 102nd as a senior in 2002.
In 2007, Casey Harms (So) placed 87th as the lone DGS individual qualifier. When Harms returned to State as a senior in 2009 along with her teammates Jacquelyn Thate (So) and Rebecca Stearns (So) the current streak of Mustang qualifiers was set in motion. The aforementioned trio of girls placed 132nd, 106th, and 140th respectively. In 2010, Katie Strelau (So) finished 95th as the last individual qualifier DGS has sent to State.
Freshman, Amanda Thate (28th place), along with Katie Strelau (62nd place), led the team’s return to Peoria and a 12th place finish in 2011. This was the first of what has grown into a 5 year streak of qualifying the team for State. The Mustangs came back and finished in 15th place in 2012. This team was led by junior, Haley Alber‘s 65th place individual finish along with sophomore, Abby Kargol‘s 70th place and senior, Amy Rotunno‘s 74th place finish.
2013 marked the best DGS team finish since 1990 when the Mustangs brought home 9th place overall. Amanda Thate (Jr) and Haley Albers (Sr) paced the team with their 34th and 41st place individual finishes. Last season, sophomore, Katie Stapleton, was the top finisher (120th place) for the 2014 DGS team that finished in 21st place at State. Katie looks to lead the team again in 2015 as they are set to compete in this year’s State Meet.
DGS IHSA State Team Qualifiers & State Place
- 1983 – 7th place
- 1984 – 8th place
- 1985 – 5th place
- 1988 – 6th place
- 1989 – 5th place
- 1990 – 6th place
- 2001 – 21st place
- 2011 – 12th place
- 2012 – 15th place
- 2013 – 9th place
- 2014 – 21st place
DGS IHSA All-State Athletes & State Place
- Christine Slabich (1983) 17th place
- Christine Slabich (1984) 12th place
- Christine Slabich (1985) 9th place
- Becky Mizener (1987) 15th place
- Mindy Sick (1988) 7th place
- Tina Stec (1988) 23rd place
- Tina Stec (1989) 13th place
- Julie Klinkenberg (1989) 18th place
- Myrna Cantu (1991) 12th place