By Lenny Sementi
Head boys track coach Ryan Hornaday and his assistant Austin Sexson along with girls coaches Dustin Dees and Tracy Hornaday will link up with long time legendary throws coach Stan Weinke this spring once the IHSA gives the go ahead. The experienced group of coaches will look to their seniors to lead the way around the oval this spring and have already utilized them during three indoor meets at the University of Illinois Armory.
Brandon Douglas, Mason Day, Josh Dyer, Coulson Poffenberger, Nick Woods and Marcus Holmes will be at the front of the pack for the boys group while Karli Dean, Hannah Lemay and Caleigh Parsley will take over the reins on the girls side of things. Hornaday says “both squads will be geared more toward individual performances, rather than team standings as in years past. Our hope is to prepare them to hit full stride and perform great in May.”
Tuscola squared off with at least fourteen different teams at the armory competing in a six team meet on Friday February 7. Seven teams were there on the 21st of that month, including 1A distance powerhouse University High and ten teams the first weekend of March when 2A perennial powers Centralia, St Joe Ogden, Shelbyville and Tolono Unity turned laps.
Dyer and Douglas are two of the individuals returning that could turn some heads in late May. Both fourth year athletes placed in big meets last season and have their sights set on the state meet. Douglas qualified for the IHSA meet in Charleston a year ago in the pole vault and was a near miss on the podium. He is hunting not only a state medal but also the school record. During indoor he joined with Logan Wallace, Ian Buchanan and Hunter Branca for a fifth place finish in the 4×200 relay turning in a 1:46 and also posted the Warriors fast time in the 60-meter dash crossing the line in 7.7-seconds. Another senior Poffenberger anchored another 4×2 team finishing just one second back taking the baton from Ben Hornaday, Colin Lewis and Eric Badgett.
Dyer will be the point chaser in the throws after missing state qualification by less than an inch a year ago. He led the way at the armory second and two thirds delivering a personal best 13.98-meters in the second meet. Classmate Sergio Martinez and freshman Chris Boyd were next in line taking fifth and sixth respectively. Hans Goodman, Thomas Brown, Colton Gunter, Austin Lewis, Dalton Eades, Zach Patterson, Blake Cruzan and few others will also donate in the throws.
Poffenberger will be another that will seek a spot on the big blue track at EIU’s state contest. He turned more than a few heads and collected some hardware last spring in the triple jumps and took first twice during indoor. James Boyd, a junior, captured first place in the pole vault in the third meet and Lewis posted a PR in week two taking second in the long jump.
Day had a great fall campaign in cross-country as did classmates River Kanitz and Nick Woods. The trio will be the spotlight runners for the Warriors in the distance events. They will also be the leaders in relays as well joining them will be Tanner Campbell, Krish Patel, Clayton Hausmann, Hornaday, Badgett and Jacob Middleton.
On the girls side look for sophomore Alyssa Williams to shine. The sprinter ran away with the 60-meter in both weeks one and two at the U of I meets posting a PR of 8.08-seconds on February 21. Skylar Wilkins and Parsley PR’d in the same meet producing a third and sixth respectively. Lemay was strong in cross and will be the backbone of the middle to long distance races. She finished top ten in the 800-meter in meet three.
The Dean sisters Karli and Kate will be coach Weinkes front runners. Karli captured a fifth and sixth place finish in shot with a toss of 9.53-meters while Kate took eighth both times. Both are even stronger in the discus when outdoor season is underway. Williams is strong in the field also posting first in the long jump with a personal best 5.11-meter leap. Addi Fowler placed fifth in the same meet with personal best jump.
Hornaday states “The boys side is loaded, i.e. Salt Fork (state trophy last spring), Arcola and Arthur are all extremely talented. Unity, St Joe and Monticello are as always very good. On the girls side the Central Illinois Conference with likes of St. Teresa and Shelbyville have traditionally competed with the best in the state since its inception and this year Clinton looks especially strong.”