By Lenny Sementi
Gone from a year ago is JD Barrett the number one runner on the boys’ side of Tuscola’s cross country team. He isn’t the only one missing from the prior few seasons as Coach Dustin Dees stepped aside last spring opening the door up for a new leader of the pack head coach Mike Rosenbaum. Coach Rosenbaumm welcomes back a balanced team featuring eight runners on both the boys’ and girls’ side including a few leaders from a year ago despite the departure of Barrett.
Rosenbaumm laid out what was expected and needed from both teams to advance to the sectional level.
“When the kids were asked, many responded with all-conference and sectional advancements aspirations. They understand the time and work that is necessary to achieve these goals, and I’m looking forward to watching it happen,” stated the coach. “There was strong representation during summer workout, the kids showed up looking to improve and get their mileage in and are prepared to compete this fall.”
Senior Mason Day and sophomore Logan Wallace return to lead the boys’ squad while juniors Brynn Tabeling and Hannah Hornaday will be at the front of the pack on the girls’ side. Tabeling has been the Warriors’ number one for the past two season and should be at or near the front at most meets including the large Invitationals. Joining her from last year’s team are Mckenzie Heckler and Faithlyn Daugherty who will add depth for the new coach. Newcomers freshman Makenzie Herchberger and Sage Stahler will be fighting for a spot on the varsity roster and are only going to get better as the season progresses.
Day is a grinder and has lowered his times every year. He’s poised for a breakout season during his final tour of central Illinois courses. Wallace turned in some great outings last year as a freshman and will be one of the top scorers for the Warriors. Coach Rosenbaumm thinks Riley Nolan could surprise some people this year.
“He had an excellent summer, and I think he’s going to help us out a lot this year.”
The coaching staff is all smiles after the first week of practice that started at midnight Monday, Aug. 12 thanks to help from the parents and the Douglas County Police aiding during the run keeping the runners safe.
“I was very pleased with the overall effort and attitude of the kids as they completed the workouts this week. It definitely set the tone for how practices should run this year, and I’m extremely proud of the kids, specifically the seniors, for not allowing us to have an ‘off’ day,” commented Rosenbaumm.
Tuscola will be chasing Clinton and Shelbyville in the Central Illinois Conference as both teams return almost their entire teams on the boys’ side from a year ago. But despite the experience, Rosenbaumm likes what he has seen so far, “if times progress like I think they will, we will definitely be in the mix with both of them.”
On the girls’ side, 9 of the Top 10 girls from the conference meet return (including Tabeling), so it will be interesting if there are any new faces who will turn some heads. St. Teresa is always strong and return six of their top seven runners making them the team to beat. Shelbyville is right behind the Lady Bulldogs with two of the top three from the CIC meet back. But once more Rosenbaumm is optimistic about his team.
“Like the boys, I am happy with where we are at right now as far as our times compared to last year, and we should be ready to be in the mix by the time the CIC meet rolls around.
“I could not ask for a better group of kids for my first year of coaching Cross Country. From the beginning, I’ve set my expectations to give great effort, have a great attitude, and to be a great teammate, and the kids have done exactly what I’ve asked them to do,” quipped the coach. “I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the kids as the year progresses, and watch our goals be achieved.”