Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, the 1998 Salem Lady Wildcats cross country team had high hopes despite losing 3 of it’s Top 5 runners as graduating Seniors and facing an increase in official course length from 2 miles to 2.5 miles. The team returned the top 2 runners in Junior Erin McMullen and Senior Trisha Hustedde and rounded out its experience with returning varsity runners in Junior Gena Terlizzi and Senior Audrey Hargis. Add several talented younger runners into the mix and the team had a promising season ahead.

The Lady Cats started the season with a victory scoring 35 points at the Murphysboro Invitation, finishing in front of rival school Mt. Vernon. McMullen lead the team with a 2nd place finish, Hustedde right behind in 3rd and Freshman Erica Jansen in 5th. Next, the ladies won the Granite City Invitational with a team score of 65 points. The Mt. Vernon Invitation made it three in a row for the Lady Cats with a combined score of 10 points, winning 4 of the 7 filghted races.

The Peoria Notre Dame Invitational proved the first challenge for the ladies as they ran short-handed. Hustedde was a double sport athlete and was playing for the Lady Cats’ volleyball team that weekend. Despite missing their number two runner, the team finished 16th in the loaded field of 41 teams. Two days later, the ladies were back on track at the annual tri meet with Mt. Vernon and Centralia putting up 18 points with McMullen, Hustedde and Jansen finishing in spots 1 through 3.

On to the Springfield Invitational and another team win for the Lady Cats of Salem with a team score of 68 points against 16 other schools. The Lady Cats then traveled North to the power packed Peoria Invitation and brought home a 3rd place finish. Once again, the team was lead by Erin McMullen, while Freshman Erica Jansen stepped into the number two spot. Gena Terlizzi ran 3rd for the ladies, Trisha Hustedde, Brittany Heuerman, Audrey Hargis and Shandi Murphy rounded out the varsity squad for the meet.

Next up was the NEC Conference Championship where the Lady Cats took the title with 17 points and an individual win by McMullen and into the post-season they ran. The ladies won the regional title hosted by the Mt. Vernon Rams with McMullen winning the individual title. The IHSA Sectional proved a show down with some of the top teams across Central and Southern Illinois. With a strong showing from McMullen, Jansen, Terlizzi, Hustedde, Heurman, Hargis and Freshman Ashley Crompton, the Lady Wildcats captured a 2nd place finish behind Champaign Centennial – a team that went on to place 5th at the state meet. The Ladies had just punched their ticket to the IHSA state meet in Peoria.

The 1998 Lady Wildcats continued one of the best seasons in school history with an impressive and best ever team finish at the IHSA State Cross Country meet by placing 15th. The Lady Cats were once again lead by Erin McMullen with a school best finish in 38th place. Six members of the team were elected to the All-South Team in McMullen, Hustedde, Jansen, Heuerman, Terlizzi and Hargis.

Members of the 1998 Lady Wildcats lead by Coach Kirby Phillips  & Coach Suzanne Henry were Erin McMullen, Trisha Hustedde, Gena Terlizzi, Erica Jansen, Brittney Heuerman, Audrey Hargis, Ashley Crompton, Sarah Larmier, Kim Minton, Anna Larmier, Nicole Evans, Carrie Graham, Kassie Clutter, Jolene Wattelet, Kristen Brough, Meghan Hawkins and Shandi Murphy.