'The University of Illinois is where I belong’

'The University of Illinois is where I belong’

CHAMPAIGN — Two years ago, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond senior Logan Hall posted an Instagram photo of himself on the state meet podium next to then-Oakwood runner Jon Davis.

Davis, now a sophomore at Illinois, had just concluded a prolific high school career. He went down as one of the top runners in IHSA history. Hall finished second to Davis that day in the Class 1A 3,200 meter-run.

"What an experience to meet and run with a guy who has won national meets and then finish 1-2 at the state meet," Hall wrote underneath the photo. "Good luck at Illinois, Jon."

Davis responded, "See you there in a few years."

At the time, running in the Big Ten was a far off dream for Hall. But on Wednesday, Davis's comment proved prophetic when Hall committed to join Davis and run for Illinois.

As his times dropped, the defending 1A state champion in the 3,200 started receiving contact from bigger and bigger schools, including Wisconsin and Colorado. But Illinois had begun courting him about a year earlier, and the decision turned out to be an easy one after he went on a visit.

"For some people that's just a dream to go out (to Colorado) and run, but I've found that the U of I is where I belong," said Hall, whose personal coach, Justin Jones, used to coach Davis. "After seeing on my official visit the campus and talking to the coach and everything, I realized why Jon went there."

Jake Stewart has built the Illinois cross-country program into one of the Big Ten's up-and-coming teams with former Big Ten freshman of the year Jesse Reiser and Davis — the only true freshman to make the national championship in the 5,000 meters last season — leading the way.

"He's a great coach, and that's one of the main reasons that made me pick Illinois," Hall said. "On my official visit, we asked all of the guys why they went there, and it all went back to coach Stewart because he's a genuine guy, and he doesn't lie to you. He's straightforward with everything."

So next year, Hall will follow his fellow small-school star down the road to Champaign-Urbana.

He'll once again get to run with a mentor who became his friend over the last few years. And this time, they'll be wearing the same uniform.

"The guy I look up to most, Jon Davis, goes there and it's always been a dream of mine to run with him, and I'm getting the opportunity to do that," Hall said. "I can't pass that up. It's going to be pretty cool. The guy won nine state championships. Just to be able to run on a team with him and see what he can do, it's going to be cool."