By Lenny Sementi
No one takes on the persona of their coach more than Ryan Hornaday’s boys track team. He has always been a team first guy and this past spring his squad showed their true colors sacrificing possible personal accomplishments for the good of the group. Sure, track can be a viewed as an individual sport most of the time; the Warriors, however, hauled in more than their share of team hardware this year as the long time leader of the tribe distributed his talent in events that would yield results for both the individual and the Black and Gold.
Eighteen athletes lettered for Hornaday, long time throws coach Stan Wienke, and assistant coaches Alex Kemp and Jacob Griffith. Leading the way were a strong group of seniors. JD Barrett, Haden Cothron, Turner Hastings, Jordan Middleton, Cade Morgan, CJ Picazo, Gage Russell and Noah Woods were the backbone of the Warriors this past spring, helping the Warriors win the Central Illinois Conference meet, scoring in a all 14 events, while taking second in the ALAH Invite, Tuscola Open, and the Sullivan Sectional.
Picazo, the team’s MVP and points leader in all invites, continued Tuscola’s dominance in the throwing events under the tutelage of Wienke capturing the Warriors’ lone medal at the state meet with a fourth place finish in the discus with a toss of 166 feet 1 inch. He ended strong in the shot as well taking 12th overall, landing just outside of the podium with a throw of 48 feet 10 inches. Junior Josh Dyer was a few inches short of state and donated to the team’s cause, as well, in both shot and disc. The duo swept the top two spots in the majority of the meets handing the Warriors more than 30 points before the running events even started.
“CJ worked extremely hard the last half of the season,” stated Wienke. “He didn’t even place in the some of the big invites earlier in the season and goes and wins the News Gazette honor role meet and takes fourth in state.”
Woods, the team’s Outstanding Track Performer award winner, ended his career as a Warrior on the big blue oval in Charleston at the state meet. The fourth-year runner donated to the cause at all ends of the spectrum running both sprints and long distance races while also taking part in the relays if needed. He took 15th overall in the state in the open 400, touring the track in 51.75 seconds.
“Noah had incredible range,” Hornaday said. “He ran an 11.7 in the 100-meter and a broke the 5-minute mark in the mile.”
Hastings was also a jack-of-all-trades, showing up in numerous open events and relays. His big moment was being part of all four relays at the CIC meet that all but sealed the deal on the championship. He shared the Warrior Spirit award with Barrett who paced the distance races for coach Hornaday.
“JD and Turner will be missed, they gave their heart and soul to the team, both overcame various forms of adversity during their careers to have successful high school track careers.”
The junior class was nearly as strong, delivering team points in open races, the field, as well as presence in the relays. Outstanding Field Performer Brandon Douglas joined Picazo and Woods at state, taking 14th overall in the pole vault, clearing a personal best 13 feet 6 inches.
“Brandon was big for us,” stated Hornaday. “He’s the second best vaulter in school history with a realistic shot to overtake the top spot next year.”
Ben Dixon missed a big part of the season but showed up late collecting All CIC honors at the league meet in the 110-high hurdles, posting a personal best time of 17.18 seconds. Coulson Poffenberger, the hidden secret of the squad, found his way to more than a few team points in the long jump and triple jump. None bigger than the eight points he secured with a second place effort in the triple at the CIC meet. Mason Day is another third-year runner who just keeps getting better, delivering in both the open 800 and the 4×800 relay.
Four sophomores will also add letters to their jackets. James Boyd, Hans Goodmann, and Clayton Hausmann all filled in where Hornaday needed them. Freshman Logan Wallace lettered, as well, competing in both distance races and the relays.