McKenzie Yanek was the third female from the United States and among the top 15 overall to cross the finish line Saturday at the Quad-City Times Bix 7.
She snapped Jen Paul's five-year reign as the Eloise Caldwell Award winner, the fastest female Quad-Citian. She and brother Nicholas Yanek earned $2,000 for Pleasant Valley's athletic department by sweeping the high school challenge.
You figured the 18-year-old would be ecstatic, right? Not so much.
"I was a little too slow," she said. "I kind of hope my Alabama coach doesn't look at the results."
After a decorated high school career, which included two Class 4A state cross country titles and a Drake Relays 3,000-meter crown, McKenzie finished the seven-mile trek through the streets of Davenport in 42 minutes, 25 seconds.
The time was almost two minutes quicker than what McKenzie posted last July. Still, her 6:04 pace was about 20 seconds slower than what she was seeking.
"I'm going to blame it on the hills," she said.
McKenzie was more than a minute in front of Paul, who had won the Caldwell Award every year since its inception in 2011.
"I thought it would be cool for that to happen, but my coach told me not to race it," McKenzie said. "I needed to make sure I stayed controlled. I tried to keep that in mind."
It was McKenzie's last race representing PV. She'll move to Tuscaloosa, Ala., in less than two weeks and begin her college career with the Crimson Tide.
Alabama was just outside the top 30 in the country last season.
"If we can stay healthy, we can do big things on the national level," she stated. "I'm going to try and help the team as best as I can this year but try not to put too much pressure on myself."
Born on the same day, just two years apart, the Yaneks captured individual conference titles at Clinton last fall. Now, they are responsible for PV sweeping the high school challenge for the second consecutive year.
"I can't thank our school district enough," McKenzie said. "They've always been supportive and encouraging, so it was cool to do this one last time for them and give back to them for all they've done for us."
Nicholas was the 28th male overall to finish in 37:23, more than a three-minute improvement from last season. He was more than two minutes ahead of the next local high school boy in Bettendorf's Brandon Cooley.
"I just kept telling myself, 'You feel fine, you feel fine,'" Nicholas said. "I just tried to stay motivated and keep a good mental mindset.
"Last year, I had just three weeks of training before this. I've had seven (weeks) this year."
Nicholas placed seventh at the 4A state cross country meet last fall, but admitted the finish to his track season left him unfulfilled.
The junior-to-be has regained some confidence. He was 44th out of nearly 57,000 individuals at the 10K Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta earlier this month in 34:27.
He spent several days at a running camp in UCLA, one of the schools he's looking to run at beyond high school, earlier this month.
"His endurance is so incredibly good," McKenzie said.
That was evident when the two ran up to the Hollywood Sign, what McKenzie described as a four-mile steep incline.
"I was dying, actually stopped," she said. "He's just talking away like it was so much fun. I realized how amazing his endurance really is and he can compete with anyone."
And with Karson Sommer graduating, Nicholas will be the undisputed No. 1 runner for coach Erik Belby's team this fall.
"I'm really excited to take it to another level and keep getting faster," he said. "This season will be the best shape I've been in, so I'm excited to see what happens."