By Lenny Sementi
The Tuscola Invite toured the city streets downtown for a lot of years and now circles the lake at Wimple Park but no matter where it has been run it’s a staple in the cross country circuit of central Illinois and this past Saturday it shined bright. Nearly 300 runners from over 25 schools, including five state ranked boys teams and four state ranked girls teams invaded the park on the south side of Tuscola and the Warriors more than held their own.
Coach Lacey Diaz’s 21st ranked boys squad placed third overall behind the state’s second-ranked Knights of Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond and Shelbyville. The fellow Central Illinois Conference Rams were able to sneak in front of the Warriors after Tuscola spoiled their Invite a week ago by winning the Shelbyville Classic, setting up what should be a great rivalry heading into the back half of the season.
Sophomore Josiah Hortin led the way for coach Diaz taking fourth overall crossing the line in 16 minutes and 39 seconds. Classmate Jackson Barrett was a few spots back seventh, rounding the lake course in 16:55. Seniors Logan Wallace 17:42 and Riley Nolan 18:55 occupied the three and four spots ending their day in 14th and 38th respectively while junior Mason Veach turned in the final scoring effort finishing in 43rd with a 19:02. Bryce Graves and Andrew Spillman were the alternates with Thomas Brown, John Hegarty, Mason Holmes and Jacob Middleton touring the Tuscola landscape in the open division.
“We hosted some really great competition and I felt like our boys ran great,” Diaz said. “We were missing Will Foltz who has been our number three runner but everyone stepped up and tried to make up some ground in his absence. All five of our scorers ended up in the top seventy-five earning individual medals.”
A pair of freshmen continued to impress on the girls team for coach Adam Crutchley. Lia Patterson ended her day in 13th place out of nearly 140 runners with a time of 20:38. Fellow newcomer Rylie Vanausdoll was next in line entering the chute in 21:54 securing 25th place. Skylar Wilkins, Addy Ring and Makenzie Hershberger scored in the final three spots for coach Crutchley. Reggan Smith, Kyla Gough and Lauren Woods were the alternates for Tuscola.
“The girls looked great this weekend,” stated coach Crutchley. “Considering the heat was a bit higher than we are used to, our times may have been a little slower than expected but the girls went out and competed hard. Loved what I saw out of everyone. Should see some fast times and PR’s at SJO next weekend on a road course.”