Josie Brown’s fourth-place finish at the East Peoria Sectional allowed her cross country career to come full circle.

Josie Brown’s fourth-place finish at the East Peoria Sectional allowed her cross country career to come full circle.

A senior, Geneseo’s Brown finished in 18:25.1 with the best individual qualifying time at the Class 2A sectional race held at Illinois Central College on Oct. 27.

Following a fantastic freshman season, Brown finished the season with a 103th-place finish at the state finals.

However, injuries keeper her from a returning to Detweiller Park in Peoria until this season.

“I guess I took it for granted,” Brown said. “I didn’t see what setbacks could be put in your way. When you are being that successful you don’t always realize I might not get this opportunity again for a while.

“I didn’t really understand then you can get injured. I had already had one injury, but it wasn’t really real like it is after having been through so many. It’s just about not taking things for granted because freshman year I kind of did.”

Brown has been at the peak of her powers on the course this season, and her determination to return to state wouldn’t be denied.

“I knew what it was going to take this year,” Brown said. “I made every workout harder just trying to be where I expected, so I would know when this time of year came around it wouldn’t be a question at all.”

Detweiller Park was where Brown caught everyone’s attention freshmen year racing to a 22nd place finish in 18:32 at the First to the Finish competition her freshman year.

“I just remember thinking let’s go break 18 minutes,” Brown said. “That’s always been a goal of mine each season, but I think it’s realistic here.”

Brown finished the sixth at the Runnin’ Red Invite in Metamora in 18:02.9, and she cruised to the individual Galesburg Regional title becoming the first Geneseo runner to win a regional title since Rachel Wyffels 2003.

With the top five teams qualifying for state at sectionals, Geneseo finished seventh (154) with Mahomet-Seymour earning the sectional title among a 12-team field.

Geneseo freshman Lacey Laxton (19:29.0) was three seconds behind the final qualifying spot claimed by Shannon Tang from Champaign Central (19:26.0).

The Lady Leafs’ Julia Poel had a strong final showing during her senior season finishing 29th in 19:40.5, and Lauren Belvel finished 46th in 20:15.77.

Geneseo’s Anna Girten ran down 48th in 20:21.2, and Avery Magerkurth finished 49th in 20:22.5.

The Leafs’ Anna Pierce finished 70th in 21:10.9.

In addition to the 18-minute mark, Brown said she wanted to take a run at earning All-State honors for a top 25 finish at state. Geneseo hasn’t had an All-State runner since Emily Ford in 2010.

Brown will compete in the Class 2A finals at Detweiller Park, in Peoria on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 11 a.m.

While Brown’s career will come to an end at state, she is excited to see the Lady Leafs build on the potential they showed this season.

“It’s sad for me knowing that I have to leave the great group we are,” Brown said. “We are all so close I consider us like best friends. I think the younger girls will develop and Anna and Lauren will be able to lead as seniors. Lacey will keep moving up and progressing, and it’s exciting to see their potential and will be cool to watch them.”