TAYLORVILLE — The 2023 Taylorville High School cross country team senior members. From left to right: Brenton Good, Grayce Goodroe, Jesse Sloan, Ella Goodman, Owen Morgan, Lydia Heberling, Jack Chesser, Hallie Smith and Jake Whetsell.
Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Sports Editor
TAYLORVILLE — Rain couldn’t put a damper on Senior Night for Taylorville cross country. The final regular season cross country meet of the fall was held at the Christian County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, Sept. 26. Nine upperclassman were acknowledged for their dedication and what they have been able provide to the program as a whole. Head Coach Steve Walters and members of the community shined the spotlight on each senior giving them their time before and after the boys and girls races respectfully.
TAYLORVILLE — (left) Grayce Goodroe participates in the Senior Night cross country meet held at the Christian County Fairgrounds. The senior finished in ninth place for the girls portion with an overall time of 24:25.72.
Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Photo
Ladies first. The Taylorville girls raced the three miles to a first place finish receiving a 25 team score. Ella Goodman (1st; 19:39.59), Hallie Smith (2nd; 21:53.59), Grayce Goodroe (9th; 24:25.72) and Lydia Heberling (18th; 27:50.33) were the focus of the Tornadoes. Sydney Lowis (5th; 23:05.12), Gabby Mireles (11th; 25:11.89) and Raylee Oller (16th; 27:16.54) rounded out the Taylorville girls who are on a mission with the season coming to a close.
“A little rainy right now but that’s how we handle it.” Coach Walters said “We had seniors finish one and two with the rest of them coming along there. Proud of a couple of them because there is a little sickness going on but there were some other girls who stepped it up today and filled the spots. So we’re pretty confident on how we did against a conference team here.”
He continues by letting us in on just how close he feels about the 2023-’24 girls cross country class.
“A great showing today.” Walters states. “These seniors have been fantastic over the years. They have become quite like a family group. This is the biggest senior group I have ever had graduate. We’re getting nine total seniors out of here, boys and girls, so we’ve got a lot of big shoes to fill next year.”
TAYLORVILLE — (right) Taylorville senior cross country athlete Jack Chesser eyes the course ahead during the three mile run on Tuesday, Sept. 26. Chester legged out the Senior Night race in 17:23.29 which earned him sixth place place.
Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Photo
After their brief intermission it was the boys’ turn to run their three mile race. Lead by senior Owen Morgan (1st; 15:54.47), freshman Liam Bettis (2nd; 16:03.28) and senior Jesse Sloan (4th; 16:57.77) the boys secured first place with a team score of 21 total points over Charleston (2nd; 46) and Sullivan (3rd; 72).
“Fantastic group.” Exclaimed Coach Walters. “They have done a lot for this community. They are involved in every single thing there is in that High School. We are so appreciative of the work they have done. Jesse Sloan got put back in the ranks and that only makes our team better. He knew he was that guy. He’s back in our third spot. So good to help us.”
Seniors Jack Chesser (6th; 17:23.29) and Brenton Good (8th; 17:27.86) acted as the foundation of this exceptional Taylorville boys team.
“It felt good. The fact that it was Senior Night made us race a lot better for sure.” senior Brenton Good said. “Started off a little slower and then I rolled on in. Typically what I’m comfortable with doing.”
This group of guys is as tight knit as it gets. Sharing friendships, memories and lot of stories as well.
“We all started together.” Good continues. “We’ve always been close like that. Especially us boys. We’ve been best friends since we started. My advice to the younger guys would be to definitely create bonds like that. Hopefully, we make it to State and then after we will stay close.”
Rounding out the Tornadoes was sophomore Tyler Corpin (17:34.34), freshman Logan Halligan (10th; 17:36.14), junior Brody Harker (11th; 18:19.73), sophomore Ross Brown (15th; 19:04.68) freshman Joseph Goodman (18th; 19:16.09) and, of course, senior Jake Whetsell anchored down his team finishing with a final time of 26:40.21 which earned him 31st place.
Front runner and bonifed leader, Owen Morgan, shares his thoughts before, during and after the Senior Night race.
“The only thing I was thinking of was, Senior Night.” Morgan says. “Cross Country with my best friends. How could I ask for a better group of guys than I have right now? Been with each other since sixth grade, stuck with it, almost lost Brenton (Good) freshman year when he moved to North Carolina but came back because his car broke down. I think that was one of the best things to ever happen to our group.”
He continues by letting us in on the secret propelling them forward.
“We all know each other so well and it helps that we can talk to each other without having to hold ourselves back. If they need to step up, we can tell them to step up. I think we pass down leadership to the younger runners in many ways. They look up to us and we’re doing our best to have a good impression and set positive examples.”
Moving forward, the Taylorville cross country team will participate in the Dan Moy Jacksonville Invite on Saturday, Sept. 30. The 2.9 miles race will take place at Jacksonville Community High School.