PEORIA, Illinois (WMBD) – A handful of Central Illinois cross country runners have dominated trails this season, and now they’re ready to make a run for state.

U-High’s Natalie Bierbaum and Zoe carter took avid cross country fans by surprise last year as underclassmen. A year later, they’re still at the front of the pack, and ready for the postseason.

Treat it as any other race but at the same know I put in the work I put in the mileage. and just believe in that. I do pretty well under pressure so I’m ready for it.

Zoe Carter

Bierbaum added, “We’re competitive with each other and we just try to push each other and make each other better.”

Last winter, Natalie battled multiple injuries that threatened to derail her young career; an intense rehab regime kept her on the course this fall.

I went through a lot of physical therapy and I think it really made me stronger as a whole. And just being faster than last year is really nice because I was kinda worried after all my injuries last year that I wouldn’t come back

Natalie Bierbaum

On the boys side, Morton’s Josh Weeks was the Mid-Illini conference champion. But running wasn’t his only passion growing up.

“Played basketball, soccer growing up. And I was always in a sport every season. And I Picked running because it pushed me the hardest.”

Running still takes a toll. His mid-race thoughts are probably something we can all relate to.

Everything hurts. Gotta keep on moving because I can’t stay complacent. I know Football players will argue but cross country is the hardest sport.

Josh Weeks