By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s track program overall boys and girls has been one of the strongest in central Illinois for a lot of years delivering team trophies in both. This year’s squads didn’t miss a beat, each qualifying individual track athletes, field athletes and a pair of relay teams.
Coach Drew Sterkel and the Lady Warriors added another to the trophy case at TCHS. Sterkel the News Gazettes Girls Track Coach of the year leaned on his star Alyssa Williams but also looked to his youth. He utilized all parts putting the third team trophy in the case at TCHS and the programs first ever State Title.
Senior Alyssa Williams led the way for the state champs adding three more golds and a bronze medal to her personal collection at the Big Blue Oval at EIU. Williams, the WCIA Female Athlete of the year and News Gazette female athlete of the year, won the 100 and 200-meter sprints for the second consecutive year.
The team’s MVP, Outstanding Track and Outstanding Field performer joined up with teammates freshman Lia Patterson, junior Mia Hausmann, and sophomore Jillian Alexander in the 800-meter relay for a gold medal outing breaking a long time school record touring the track in one minute 44.11 seconds. The Jamaican Native secured her fourth state medal of the year and the eighth of her career with a third place in the long jump.
Patterson collected four medals as well in her first go round. The News Gazettes first team Hurdle/Sprint honoree won gold in the 800-relay, took second in the 200-meter dash, finishing behind only Williams while posting the second fastest time in school history, third in the 300-Low hurdles, and fifth in the 100-low hurdles. She owns school records in both hurdle races after just one season in the black and gold.
Even with Williams, a Murray State commit moving on to college next fall Patterson and the Lady Warriors will still be a favorite to add yet another trophy to the collection. Hausmann and Alexander were both second team News Gazette All Area recipients for the part in the team title and the relay gold in the 4×200. Junior Harley Woodard and freshman Kenna Clodfelder landed on the News Gazette Honorable mention squad. The duo joined with Hausmann and Alexander on the state qualifying 4×100-meter relay team. Sophomore thrower Natalie Hastings accepted News Gazette Honorable mention accolades as well.
Boyd, a First Team All Area News Gazette athlete, was the rock on a young boys track team. The junior thrower took home state hardware for the second consecutive year finishing in the runner-up spot in the shot put a few weeks back. The senior-to-be qualified in both throwing events collecting the squads MVP and Outstanding Field Performer at the end of the year awards banquet.
Joining Boyd at the state track meet were seniors Connor Lewis, Krish Patel, Logan Wallace and Riley Nolan along with juniors Hunter Branca and Ben Hornaday as well as sophomores Will Foltz, Jackson Barrett and Josiah Hortin. Hortin, the teams Outstanding Track Athlete award winner and Barrett both toured the Blue Oval in 1600-meter run and took part in the 4×800-meter relay earning them News Gazette Honorable Mention All Area middle/long distance nods.
Nolan and Wallace, this year’s Warrior Spirit award winner, linked up with Hortin and Barrett in the 4×8 for a twelfth place finish overall just missing the podium. Branca, Lewis, Hornaday and Patel were strong in the prelims but came up short in the 4×200-meter relay. Foltz, an Honorable Mention News Gazette athlete, qualified and competed in the pole vault in just his second season in the black and gold.