Special to the Clinton Journal
CLINTON — The Maroon Cross Country teams are to a fast start to begin the season with several solid performances in 3 invitational meets and two triangular meets.
The boys team is young team lead by Ethan Black and Ty Brennan, with only two seniors Reid Thomas and Peyton Haynes, won their opening meet of the season at Clinton High School edging out the Heyworth Hornets and solidly defeating the Sullivan Redskins and a second place showing at a triangular meet in Downs against Uni-High and Tri-Valley.
At their next meet the Maroons placed 6th out of 19 teams at the St. Thomas More Saber Corn Classic. The following meet they took 2nd out of 19 teams at the Rochester Invitational and this past weekend placed 16th out 53 teams at the First to the Finish Invitational at Detweiller park in Peoria.
The Maroons have been sitting at the edge of the rankings for Class 1A teams in the 3 class cross country system since the beginning of the season. In the coaches poll they have been as high as 21st, in Illinois XC Speed Rankings they have been as high as 21st, and in Illinois Milesplit rankings they have been ranked 16th.
“On the Boys side we have really good young group. Black, Brennan, Hale, Hendriex, Shanks, and Wolfe will all be back next season along Stauffer, Deavers, Phillips, Williamson, O’Daniell, Devore, Husted, and Deerwester,” said coach Daniel Andrews. “Reid Thomas knows it’s his last season and has really picked it up while Haynes is mostly doing cross for track conditioning he has improved in his short time. We are stilling learning how to race and compete with a high degree of execution and high expectations. “
Andrews said the learning process isn’t just going out and setting a tempo.
“Knowing when you have to work hard and have really good focus in a race is more critical than actual race fitness,” he said. “Turney is going to get a lot of publicity being one of the state’s best runners, but this team is more than just her. Hannah Williams, who is visually impaired, is the one of the best leaders I have ever coached during my career. Hannah is the finest example of intrinsic drive and motivation I have witnessed in an athletic context.”
Andrews also said runners, such as Olivia Petersen, Mackenzie Willoughby, Jessie Wertz, and Autumn Brinkoetter, have made huge strides, along with Aryn Scott and Claire Holland, who have run cross country before.
“Ultimately, the goal of each athlete is to become the best athlete they can become which will allow us to be the best team we can be.”