RANTOUL — Once or twice a week before school starts, Cord Church is at Rantoul track practice.
The senior baseball standout for the Eagles is contributing in both sports this spring — and not just contributing, but excelling. Church established the sixth-fastest time in school history in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles during the Monticello Invitational on April 12. He clocked in at 42.9 seconds, which helped him place second in the event. It was the first time he had run the event, too.
“What we did at the beginning before baseball and track started is we compared schedules to find out what meets he could compete at and when he would go to baseball,” said Mitch Wilson, Rantoul’s assistant track coach who helps coach the sprinters and credits Rantoul baseball coach Jon Donovan for letting Church do both sports. “Obviously, baseball is his No. 1 sport. We just get him whenever he doesn’t have a baseball game.”
The hope is for Church to help Rantoul out at the Corn Belt Conference Meet on May 3 and again on May 16 at the Class 2A Centennial Sectional. Rantoul is not scheduled to have any baseball games those two days.
The state-qualifying standard in the 300 hurdles is 40.44, so he’ll have to lower his time or place in the top two in order to compete at the 2A state meet in Charleston, which might conflict with the Eagles’ baseball team’s postseason plans.
But Church — who has received help from Rantoul volunteer coach Jacob Terhune — has proven he can multi-task this spring.
“It’s unbelievably impressive,” Wilson said. “He’s a natural to this sport. He just needed some resharpening. Whenever I found out he ran the sixth-fastest time in school history, I called him and talked to his parents, too. His parents were more excited than he was. That can be good, too, because he’s humble about it. Some guys let it get to their head. He’s been able to just go with the flow.”