The East Peoria cross country teams accomplished their major goal Saturday.

The East Peoria cross country teams accomplished their major goal Saturday.

The Raider girls and boys squads advanced to the Class 2A Notre Dame Sectional by finishing in the top seven at the Normal West Regional.

The girls placed fifth with 117 points, while the boys were sixth with 143. Both races at Maxwell Park were three miles.

On the girls' side, junior Ally Watson led Brian Disney-coached East Peoria by crossing the finish line in 12th place in a time of 19:10.

Just 13 seconds behind her in 18th with a personal record was Morgan Skaggs, a freshman.

Heather Jones, a senior, also broke the 20-minute barrier for the Raiders in a season-best 19:38, good for 22nd place overall.

Ellie Peterson was 29th in a personal-best 20:03, and Leah Smith was 40th to round out the East Peoria effort. Both are freshmen runners.

Normal University, with three of the overall top-five competitors, won the girls' regional championship in dominating fashion.

Two top-20 contestants ignited the Raider boys to the next stage.

Senior Jacob Vangunten was 13th in 15:52 and sophomore Matt Church placed 16th only 12 seconds later.

The next three East Peoria runners, guided by head Scott Peterson, also were under 17 minutes.

Jake Roberts, a sophomore, was 33rd in 16:44, junior Nick Hiller 39th in 16:52 and sophomore Cody Giebelhausen clocked a 16:59 to wind up 42nd.

The range of times for the top five was considerably faster than a year ago at the regional.

The efforts of Roberts and Hiller were crucial for the Raiders to proceed.

U-High won the boys' title by 65 points. Four of its athletes were among the first-five finishers.

Postseason continues: East Peoria competes Saturday in the Notre Dame Sectional at Illinois Central College.

The girls' competition is at 10 a.m., with the boys' race beginning 45 minutes later.

The top-five teams and top-seven individuals not on a qualifying squad advance to the Nov. 3 Illinois High School Association state final at Detweiller Park.

Also, if the eighth, ninth or 10th place overall individual sectional finisher is not on a qualifying team, they will move on to state.