By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s boys’ track team is a frequent fixture at the IHSA state meet in Charleston, and this past weekend was no different.
Hunter Woodard and his fellow seniors, John Hill, Bradley Kramer and Michael Holmes, led the way to the awards stand for long-time leader of the tribe Ryan Hornaday and throws coach Stan Weinke. The elder statesmen of the Warriors took 13th overall in Class 1A scoring 19 points and fell just a few notches short of the top ten.
Woodard not only added to his long list of accomplishments during his high school career at Eastern Illinois University, he also put one more name on the long list of state champs coached by Weinke. The Oklahoma State football commit hurled the shot put over 59 feet in the prelims to reach the finals then went one foot further firing the lead ball 60’4.5” in the finals collecting the gold medal. The big man out distanced his nearest competitor by over four feet earning the spot on the top of the podium.
He doubled up on state medals taking seventh place in the discus to earn all state accolades with a toss of 152’ 9” adding 13 points total to the team score for coach Hornaday. CJ Picazo advanced to the state meet as well but came up just short of a berth in the finals with a throw of 131’ 3” in the third flight.
Hill, who qualified in two relays and the open 400, joined with Holmes, Kramer and junior Noah Woods to add the final six points to the team totals. The group erased more than seven seconds from their preliminary time of 8 minutes, 16 seconds rounding the track eight times in the finals in 8:09 to finish fourth overall to take their spot on the podium.
The same four were a near miss on a state final appearance in the 4×400 relay taking third in their flight with a time of 3:30.75 falling less than a half second out of qualification. Hill was just as close in the open 400 meter. He was the first one out a half second back after taking third in his heat with a time of 51.52.
Rounding out the state weekend efforts of the Warrriors were Gage Russell and Brandon Douglas. The duo both advanced out of the Shelbyville Sectional a week earlier in the pole vault. Russell was 12th in his flight falling short of final qualification mark of 13’ 3” while Douglas came up short as well.