The rush of the moment wasn’t lost on Caelin Foley as he stood on the awards stage at the Class 1A state cross country meet Saturday.

The rush of the moment wasn’t lost on Caelin Foley as he stood on the awards stage at the Class 1A state cross country meet Saturday.

The Mid-County senior closed his cross country career with an All-State performance as he finished 22nd in the meet with a school record and personal best time of 15:31.58 at Detweiller Park in Peoria.

“It was pretty exciting going up there and we were up there for a pretty long time because they announced the top 25,” Foley said. “There were a few moments where I was looking out over everybody and almost started crying. It felt so great to finally do it — it was really emotional after all four years of cross country.”

Saturday was Foley’s first-ever state cross country appearance, and he made the most of the opportunity.

“Going in I knew I had to run my best time to get into the top 25, which are the medalist and All-State spots,” Foley said. “I went in with the normal game plan for every race, but once I got to the middle of the race, I could hear people counting behind me.”

The numbers he heard being counted were in the 25 range, so Foley knew he was in the hunt for All-State honors.

“I just kind of attacked and knew I couldn’t get passed the whole time,” Foley said.

A relatively flat and always-fast course, Foley had to resist the temptation of going out too fast at Detweiller Park.

“It’s one of the flatter courses and it opens on a slight downhill,” Foley said. “The first mile of the race everyone goes out super, super fast. It’s hard to not get caught up in that. I wanted to stay conservative the first mile because a lot people go out in 4:50 or sub-5 and just having nothing left.”

Foley said he was probably in the 50-60 range of runners after the first mile, then when he heard the count around 25 at the halfway point, he knew his All-State goal was within reach.

“Once I got to the mile marker, I just started passing people and moving up,” Foley said, noting many runners were feeling the effects of that fast opening mile.

Foley held off his challengers down the stretch and earned his spot on the All-State stage with the other 24 top runners in Class 1A. At that moment, he realized his years of hard work and overcoming injuries had paid off.

“You couldn’t take the smile off my face,” Foley said.

Foley came close to qualifying for the cross country state meet as a freshman, but a stress fracture hampered his sophomore season. He worked his way back from the injury his junior season, and returned to form last spring during track season, where he qualified for state in both distance races.

“That was the breakthrough,” Foley said of his junior track season.

Foley will enjoy a few weeks off before resuming his training program. He has very definite goals heading into his final track season in the spring.

“I definitely want to be on the podium in the 2-mile and mile in track,” Foley said. “With Peyton (Sopiars, defending Class 1A state triple jump champion) and how well he’s doing, I’d like to try to get up there with him.”

Foley qualified for the state track meet his freshman and junior years, but has yet to stand on the podium.

“That’s the goal. Staying healthy is the main goal and I got a really good offseason training plan last year and that’s helped a lot,” Foley said. “The big thing about getting down there at state is it’s always really hot, and you kind of have to manage that with the races.”

“I have to go down there and hopefully run my best race. I haven’t done that yet.”

n Mid-County junior Lorin Peterson also made his first appearance at the state meet, and finished 84th with a personal-best time of 16:14.22.

“Both Caelin and Lorin ran phenomenal races and both had lifetime PRs,” said M-C cross country coach Valerie Furrow.