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Breeze-Courier Sports Writer
DECATUR— The IHSA cross country Sectionals were held at Hickory Pointe Golf Course in Decatur. Men and Women were invited given qualification from their respected regionals. Out of 18 schools Taylorville Girls placed 17 and the boys placed 8th. Needing to place seventh or higher to advance to State the Tornadoes missed the mark by just eight points. However, placing 17th out of 138 runners and getting the go ahead nod to state was Tornado runner Owen Morgan.
One variable all the runners had to deal with was the mud. Having rained the night before the Hickory Point Course grounds were wet and loose making for rough conditions.
Adding to the stress of the 3 mile trek.
Girls were first to run. Dealing with the 135 indvidu- als on the narrow muddy path the girls came out quick but struggled to stay grouped. Lincoln’s own Becca Heitzig was the first female to finish the race. Finishing first for the Tornadoes was sophomore Ella Goodman with a time of 21:11.81. Behind her was teammates Hallie Smith, Anna Goodman and Kim Howard. “Solid runs out of each one of them.” Head XC Coach Steve Walters commenting on the Girls 17th place performance. “Very proud of the way the girls handled their season with all the covid restrictions and injuries.” They had no advancement on to state despite the effort each of them put in.
Next up were the boys who had the best projections to advance to the next round. Taylorville started out grouped together but spread further out as the race went on. Finishing three miles in under 15 minutes and a full minute before the second place spot was Carbondale’s senior Alex Partlow with a time of 14:57.02. Taylorville crossed the finishline at 17th. Sophomore Owen Morgan gave the Tornadoes a time of 16:51.84. Behind him were teammates Evan Morgan, Jack Chesser, Jesse Sloan, Will Turvey, Brenton Good and Dan Sloan. A little room in between each finish made for a suspenseful wait for the results after the race.
Many emotions were floating around. Not knowing if this would be the last time the three senior Tornadoes would ever run together or not filled the air with anticipation. Finally Coach Walters announced Taylorville’s Sectional results to the team. Announcing the first three Mahomet, Springfiels and Marion the Taylorville boys knew it was going to be a close call. Taylorville was slat- ed 8th place with only eight points separating the team from joining the other six at state.
Not all bad news though, it was announced Owen Morgan had been the 9th qualifier. “It feels good but I wanted to go to state with my brother.” said the emotionally conflicted Sophomore Owen Morgan whose brother, along with the entirety of the Taylorville Cross Country squad, came up just short.
The IHSA XC State Finals will be help next Saturday, November 6th. The meet will be at Detweiler Pk.