By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s boy’s cross-country is grabbing the attention of big time programs not around central Illinois but also around the state. An experienced junior in Logan Wallace and a cagey freshman in Josiah Hortin are leading Coach Mike Rosenbaum’s young squad. Hortin didn’t blink traversing the pastures around Chrisman winning the Warriors flight by nearly 20 seconds at the Cow Chip Classic capturing tenth place overall besting over 130 runners dodging cow pies setting a personal record of 17 minutes and 32 seconds.
“Josiah ran a very smart race putting himself in the lead pack early, and started pulling away after the first mile,” Rosenbaum said. “I’m excited to see what his times are this year. It would have been nice to see him run against some of the guys that had better times because I think he could have ran faster if he had somebody pushing him for an entire race.”
The classic has been held on the first Saturday of September for both boys and girls for over 25 years and is usually individually based pitting squads number one’s in one flight, number two’s in another and so forth. This year however due to COVID-19 restrictions it was modified as three or four teams went off in waves at one hour intervals from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. keeping the course under the 50 person limit at any one time in the 24 team event.
Rosenbaum’s crew was first up at seven sharp competing against Chrisman, Paris, and Cissna Park and the runners in black and gold wasted no time setting the standard for the rest of the day. The Warriors had their best overall performance at the classic in recent history. They captured second place hardware remaining in first overall following the first four waves and 14 teams before Arthur-Lovington finally unseated them around noon. State ranked Monticello, Effingham St. Anthony and Paxton Buckley Loda occupied three of the next four spots.
“I was interested to see how we would respond to running at such an early time, but the weather was perfect, and our times are a result of a really good week of practice,” stated the coach. “I thought our work ethic this week was phenomenal, and it led to the results you saw on today.”
When the dust settled Tuscola placed four runners in the top twenty-five and all five scorers in the top fifty. Hortin was the low freshman in the crowd while teammate Jackson Barrett was second best in the first year runner category scoring in the three hole for Rosenbaum taking 20th posting a PR of 18:15. In the Warriors two spot was Wallace who was second in the first wave and 14th overall with a classic best 17:51 joining with Hortin collecting individual medals in a race boasting a lot of the states top talent.
Junior Riley Nolan was next up ending his day in 25th overall with a personal best time of 18:35. Yet another youngster and fifth best freshman in the field Will Foltz rounded out the scoring placing in the top third in 44th delivering a PR of 18:56. Mason Veach and Clayton Hausmann were a few spots back adding even more depth as alternates.
Laney Cummings was tops for Tuscola in the girls race lowering her personal best three mile time for the second consecutive race. The senior crossed the line in 22:04 finishing in 26th just missing top 25 accolades in a loaded field featuring three of the top five teams in the state.
“Laney is a newcomer this year, so she’s a bit inexperienced when it comes to racing for three miles,” commented the coach. “That being said, she has exceeded any expectations I’ve had thus far with her work ethic this summer and at practice. As the year progresses, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her times drop weekly as she becomes more comfortable and has a better feel for who she should be beating from surrounding towns.”
Next up was sophomore Reggan Smith in 45th with a PR of 24:07. Following close behind utilizing a pack mentality were Hannah Hornaday, Makenzie Herschberger and Skylar Williams leading the Warriors to a ninth place finish as a team. Kyla Gough and Kenzi Heckler served as the alternates.
“It was a lot of fun for both teams, nearly everybody ran a season best on a three mile course, and it’s impressive to do it on a course like Cow Chip which features a couple of hills and the occasional cow pie on the course,” commented Rosenbaum. “We are looking forward to another strong week of practice leading into Shelbyville, which will feature all but one conference team, and will also play host to the CIC meet this year.”