By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola athletics kicked off 2020 with a bang as the boys and girls basketball teams combined to win over ninety percent of their games in the early part of 2020. But on March 13, 2020 athletics at TCHS and all around the country came to an abrupt halt due to a global pandemic shutting down the Warriors until new head coach Toby Ring’s first squad teed it up Monday August 17 at Woodlawn Country Club.
Ring took over the reins from coach Doug Bauer just a few days shy of the start of the season not knowing if they would actually get to play or what the COVID guidelines from the state would be. The coach is also an assistant softball coach and has been on a roller coaster since walking off the diamond in March and when the IHSA and Illinois Public Health Department gave the go ahead he and his eighteen players in all were nothing but smiles.
Sophomores Makenna Fiscus and Marley Good kicked off the season at Blue Ridges Mike Hendricks Girls Invite in Farmer City. The duo finished inside the top ten but most importantly wore their masks, dealt with the imposed guidelines and took their swings. Both ended their day in the top ten and continued to lead not only one of the area’s youngest girls squads but also one of the top teams in the area throughout the season. All seven members return next year and will enter the 2021 season as one of the top programs in Central Illinois.
“It was great getting back out at a high school sporting event,” stated Ring. “Overall our players did a great job all season long adapting to protocol changes. It didn’t take long for them to settle in, I know they were excited to get to compete. After having the entire spring softball season taken away it was just really great to be back at.”
Fiscus served as medalist more times than any other Warriors but none was bigger than capturing the honor at the Central Illinois Conference Tournament. The all league performer also garnered second team All Area News Gazette honors and was the team’s MVP award winner owning the Lady Warriors low scoring average (49).
Good was right behind with a 50 stroke average collecting medalist honors six times throughout the season. She was extremely strong at Regional’s leading the Warriors with a career best nine and eighteen hole score as both her and Fiscus advanced to the IHSA Sectionals.
Freshman Zoey Thomason collected some hardware as well after firing a 48 on the front nine at Eagle Creek in the CIC Championships earning All Conference accolades. The team’s Most Improved Player played her best golf late in the season. Classmate Isabelle Wilcox rounded out the team scoring in more than a few meets securing victories. The first year golfer knocked on the door at the league championships after a great front nine but came up short after eighteen. Four other newcomers to high school took turns in the scoring column as the season wore on. Addyson Ring played her best golf at the end of the year, as did Addison Pettry and Molly Macaulay.
The boy’s team had some experience on their side with a pair of seniors Braden Boyer and Cory Dunn and last year’s low scorers juniors Jayden Gaines and Landon Banta returning. Boyer ended as the Warriors medalist four times shooting his best two nine hole scores in the final match of the year and at Regional’s all leading to the squads Warrior Spirit Award. Dunn consistently lowered his score during the year and also was his strongest at the end.
“It was great to have Braden and Corey’s leading the team this year,” stated Ring. “It’s been a tough year all around because of COVID, but they both brought some normalcy to the group.”
Banta was a low scorer on the squad. The junior will be looking forward to next year after teeing it up with some of the best in the area. Gaines was a consistent scorer for coach Ring as was Brayden Gough and freshman Nate Thomason. Thomason the boy’s team MVP was in the varsity lineup for every match despite just picking up clubs for the first time after football season was moved to the spring. He landed in the 40’s in seven of his last eight nine hole outings earning him the team’s Most Improved Player Award. His brother Ty Thomason founded his way into the lineup as well and played his best golf late in the season.