By Lenny Sementi
Josiah Hortin is moving on to the second and final round of the IHSA cross country postseason for the 2020 campaign. The freshman phenom and his buddies in black and gold took their show on the road to Hickory Point Golf Course in Forsyth for a sixteen team meat grinder that boasted eight state ranked teams including coach Mike Rosenbaum’s 23rd ranked Warriors and over 100 runners.
He was the first individual moving on out of the Decatur St. Teresa regional finished his day in 12th place overall in a race that included some of the top runners in the state including the fourth ranked Layton Hall from Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond. Hortin was the second freshman to enter the chute crossing the line in 16 minutes and 38 seconds leading the Warriors to an eighth place finish as a team.
“I thought Josiah ran pretty well,” the coach said. “I think he was in his own head a bit at the beginning trying to make sure he didn’t go out too fast, and I think it put him in a weird spot as far as the pack was concerned.”
Hortin heads back to Decatur for the sectional with a plan in mind coach Rosenbaum stated. “This week, we’ve got a group of kids we want him to stick with and I think it’ll set him up nicely for the rest of the race. He’s not in a spot to be running a 4:50 something mile off the bat yet, which is what Layton put up at the start.”
The IHSA was forced to limit the sectional field to five advancing teams from each regional instead of seven due to COVID-19 guidelines erasing at least ten additional runners. Two of Hortin’s teammates Riley Nolan and Logan Wallace were caught in the backwash. The two juniors would possibly have been able to move on in normal situations. Nolan was the number two for Tuscola posting an 18:08 ending his day in the 44th place. Wallace was right on his heels ending his season one spot back in 45th delivering an 18:14.
First year senior Aiden Beachy was strong in the first postseason run of his career clocking in at 18:25 securing a spot in the top half of the field as the Warriors fourth scorer. Freshman Jackson Barrett was next up rounding out the team scoring in the five holes for Tuscola. He stepped up big after a few weeks off clocking in with an 18:46.
Two more newcomers to the team this year served as the alternates. Freshman Will Foltz was a foot behind Barrett posting the same time while first year sophomore Mason Veach was just a few seconds behind.
The large numbers and COVID guidelines forced the teams to launch runners in flights at different intervals taking away the pack mentality Tuscola has utilized all season long. “I think the guys have really come together this year and feed off each other,” commented the coach. Running split up sort of takes away our ability to pack-up and utilize that strength when we’re racing. Not being able to use each other and not knowing what their splits were put them in a different spot than they were used to and I think it adversely affected our performance.”