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Josh Baysore

Monticello

Why he made the first team:

  • The senior returned from an offseason injury to form a consistent 1-2 punch with teammate Jackson Grambart for a Sages team that finished third in its Class 1A regional and sectional. Baysore placed third in the regional and sixth in the sectional individually.

Why he decided to run cross-country in high school:

  • “I had run all throughout middle school and was still enjoying it, so I kept running in high school as well.”

His top highlight of the season:

  • “Still being able to compete as a team in the regional and sectional meets. We lost three of our top runners before the season even started, so I’m happy we were able to go as far as we did.”

The most challenging part of his season:

  • “The first few weeks. I wasn’t able to do any training over the summer due to injury, and it was really hard to get back into shape in time.”

His favorite event of the season:

  • “I personally wasn’t able to run at ShaZam (unsanctioned state), but I got to watch some races and talk to the guys about it, and I am really grateful that a meet like that existed for them.”

What it meant to compete during the pandemic:

  • “Running was one of the few things that still felt normal and brought routine back. You just forget about the pandemic for an hour or two and run with your friends.”

His top career cross-country accomplishment:

  • “Definitely winning state (as a team) my junior year. It was a great experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

A cross-country accomplishment on his radar:

  • “After high school, my only goal is to have a completely healthy running season so I can see how fast I really am. Despite having some success in high school, I can never get through a full season without getting an injury.”

Logan Beckmier

Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond

Why he made the first team:

  • A steady second runner for the Knights all season, the sophomore was a key reason why his club won a Class 1A regional title, snagged its first-ever sectional crown and placed second at unsanctioned Division I state. Beckmier claimed sixth place in regional action, fifth in the sectional round and 26th at state.

Why he decided to run cross-country in high school:

  • “I ran distance in track and wanted to compete in the fall, so I ran cross-country.”

His top highlight of the season:

  • “Getting fourth in the meet at St. Thomas More (the Saber Corn Classic) with a time of 15:42.”

The most challenging part of his season:

  • “Coming back from (COVID-19) quarantine in the middle of the season.”

His favorite event of the season:

  • “The St. Thomas More invitational because it is still hot (weather-wise) but also fun.”

What it meant to compete during the pandemic:

  • “It made me very happy and have hope for the rest of the year.”

His top career cross-country accomplishment:

  • “My top personal cross-country accomplishment is breaking 16 minutes, and my top team accomplishment is winning the regional and sectional and being second at the ShaZam state meet.”

Some cross-country accomplishments on his radar:

  • “To win the state meet as an individual and as a team, and to break 15 minutes.”

Jackson Grambart

Monticello

Why he made the first team:

  • The junior, like teammate Josh Baysore, dealt with an injury but still found a way to play a significant role in the Sages’ season. Grambart was Monticello’s top finisher in the Class 1A regional (second) and sectional (fourth), as well as at the unsanctioned Division I state meet (31st) in which the Sages took 13th.

Why he decided to run cross-country in high school:

  • “I ran all three years in middle school, and Coach (Dave) Remmert sent me a lot of letters to join high school cross-country, so I gave it a try. ”

His top highlight of the season:

  • “Getting second at regionals. That race was one of my best races of the entire season, and the race was very competitive.”

The most challenging part of his season:

  • “When I was out with a foot injury for some time. A lot of guys on our team were injured at some point and I just really wanted to help the team out.”

His favorite event of the season:

  • “The Illini Prairie Conference Meet. There was a lot of competition at that meet, so racing against some of the fastest guys in 1A was a lot of fun.”

What it meant to compete during the pandemic:

  • “Not having a true state race at Detweiller was a bummer, but being able to compete at ShaZam and all the other races made everything feel slightly normal.”

His top career cross-country accomplishment:

  • “Being the fifth runner on 2019’s state champion team. There was so much excitement just being able to race for a top spot, and it was such a crazy experience after we heard that we won.”

A cross-country accomplishment on his radar:

  • “I am really hoping that next year I can get all-state. I didn’t have my greatest performance at ShaZam this year, so hopefully next year I can come back and get into that top 25 at state.”

Layton Hall

Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond

Why he made the first team:

  • Neck-and-neck with Ryder James for Runner of the Year status, the senior followed in and surpassed older brother Logan Hall’s footsteps in his last prep campaign. Layton Hall won his regional and sectional races — guiding ALAH to team championships in both — before placing fifth at unsanctioned Division I state, at which the Knights took second as a unit.

Why he decided to run cross-country in high school:

  • “I saw the success that my older brother, Logan, had in the sport, and I wanted to recreate that success for myself.”

His top highlight of the season:

  • “When the team won our first sectional title in school history.”

The most challenging part of his season:

  • “Overcoming a few mental barriers that were weighing me down in the heart of the season, because they were having an influence on my performance.”

His favorite event of the season:

  • “The Arthur Great Pumpkin Patch Race, because it was my last home race and a lot of my friends were there to watch.”

What it meant to compete during the pandemic:

  • “Competing during the pandemic had a very positive impact on me, and that was to never take a race for granted because it may just be your last.”

His top career cross-country accomplishment:

  • “Individually placing fifth at the ShaZam Championships, because I proved to myself that the state meet my junior year was a fluke.”

A cross-country accomplishment on his radar:

  • “In college, I am hoping to have a huge impact on the Indiana State team and hopefully contribute to a Missouri Valley Conference title.”

Ryder James

Paxton-Buckley-Loda

Why he made the first team:

  • Our Runner of the Year won six of the races he entered and surpassed Layton Hall head-to-head on a time basis in five of their six meetings to snag the honor. The junior took second in his regional — behind the eventual unsanctioned Division I state champion — and seventh in a loaded sectional before rising to fourth place at state.

Why he decided to run cross-country in high school:

  • “I came off a second-place finish at the junior high state meet, and it made me really excited for high school cross-country because there was a really great group of guys in my high school on the team, and we bonded really well overall.”

His top highlight of the season:

  • “The team one was definitely winning conference as a team. That was really big because it was our last year in (the Sangamon Valley Conference), so we took the trophy with us and we get to keep it forever. ... Individual-wise, definitely ShaZam state. The weeks leading up into that I was in a little bit of a slump and I was really down, a little bit worried about it. But I ended up having a pretty good race at ShaZam, so I was really happy with that.”

The most challenging part of his season:

  • “Definitely the last couple of weeks. I felt like there was something wrong with me. Just wasn’t racing well. Just felt tired. I was kind of losing motivation toward the end. But, luckily, the week of ShaZam state I was able to get back into it, and I was able to run a pretty good race at ShaZam.”

His favorite event of the season:

  • “The PBL Invite, was pretty fun. It was pretty wet out, and I got to race my good friend Layton (Hall). And I also got to watch my good friends Connor (Price) and Eli (Mojonnier) run too, which was really fun. I was able to run the third-fastest time on the course ever and break my PBL course record.”

What it meant to compete during the pandemic:

  • “It’s a blessing, honestly. Going into the season, I was really thinking we weren’t going to have a season. I thought I was going to have to run in like Indiana or different states. I’m just really happy that the IHSA was able to put on as much of a season as they could, and I’m very thankful to ShaZam for being able to put on a state meet.”

His top career cross-country accomplishment

  • : “Probably this year at ShaZam, placing fourth at state in 1A, and overall placing 10th or 11th in the entire state, which is pretty cool. A lot of those guys were juniors, so I’ll be probably racing them all again next year. It’s just a big accomplishment to be named one of the best in Illinois.”

A cross-country accomplishment on his radar:

  • “I would like to win a state championship. This is a really tough class I’m in, so it’s not going to be easy whatsoever, but I still would really like to win a state championship.”

Eli Mojonnier

Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin

Why he made the first team:

  • The junior, like female Blue Devils counterpart Gabriella Moreman, served as the best Vermilion County distance running had to offer in 2020. Mojonnier notched fourth place in his Class 1A regional and third in his sectional before going on to land 18th at unsanctioned Division I state.

Why he decided to run cross-country in high school:

  • “I had always done track and field in junior high, and I was on a state-winning relay and placed all-state in the 1,600 in eighth grade. Then, going into my freshman year, (former BHRA runner) Gabe Martinez reached out to me and told me I should give cross-country a try.”

His top highlight of the season:

  • “When I ran 16:17 at my conference meet on a course that many consider to be very slow and challenging. Another great moment was when our team made it to and ran well at sectionals.”

The most challenging part of his season:

  • “During the summer, when I had to do long runs by myself in the blazing heat. But thankfully the guys — Ryder (James), Layton (Hall), Connor (Price) and Emerson (Thorlton) — ran with me whenever we could meet up.”

His favorite event of the season:

  • “The ShaZam championship. I didn’t really run the race I wanted to, but I still loved the hype around it and all the competition that was there. It was a great experience.”

What it meant to compete during the pandemic:

  • “Actually getting to have a season had a huge impact on me. I had been working since the middle of June for the goal of all-state, so when I found out that ShaZam was going to happen I got hit with a sense of relief knowing that I can put my hard work to the test.”

His top career cross-country accomplishment:

  • “Placing third at my St. Teresa Sectional after getting fourth at my regionals. I was upset with my effort at regionals, so I made sure I would do better at sectionals, which I did.”

A cross-country accomplishment on his radar:

  • “Running a sub-15-minute 3-mile. I thought I was capable of it this year until I figured out exactly how hard it was to do such a thing. Hopefully I will be able to check that off the list next year.”

Kyle Nofziger

Mahomet-Seymour

Why he made the first team:

  • The leader of a stout Bulldogs junior class that includes Joseph Scheele and Taylor Fan, Nofziger led Mahomet-Seymour to a team regional championship by ranking second individually. He also helped the Bulldogs to fourth in their sectional by finishing with the race’s seventh-best time, then took 18th at unsanctioned Division II state as his squad placed runner-up.

Why he decided to run cross-country in high school:

  • “I enjoyed it in junior high and just liked running in general. Coach (Neal) Garrison and some of the now-alumni also had a big part in getting me out. They built a great program and team that I wanted to be a part of. Coach Garrison also “recruited” hard and talked to me and convinced me to do cross-country over soccer, which I’m glad I did.”

His top highlight of the season:

  • “When my team got second at the ShaZam (Division II) championship race. It was a great way to end the season, and it was great to see our hard work pay off. The team ran well, lots of the guys not running came out to support us and our seniors ran well, too, so it was a great end to their high school career. It was amazing to be able to bring back another trophy to Mahomet, and we also met Craig Virgin, which was super cool.”

The most challenging part of his season:

  • “Having to adapt to all the new rules. Due to COVID we couldn’t run the races we normally run at, so we had to find different races, which was a little hard to get used to at first. It all worked out in the end, though, so there’s not anything to complain about.”

His favorite event of the season:

  • “The ShaZam race. It was fun because the team did well and the atmosphere there was great. It was nice getting to run a 5K once, and the course was a fun one as well. It was also my favorite because a lot of the team who weren’t running still came out to support us, and so it was a great whole-team experience. ”

What it meant to compete during the pandemic:

  • “Getting to have a season was very nice, and we were super lucky to get that. Having a season meant that all the hard work our team put in over the summer could pay off and we could use it for something. It was also nice because racing is fun, so it was great to have something to look forward to during the pandemic.”

His top career cross-country accomplishment:

  • “Being 18th at ShaZam and helping my team get second. ”

A cross-country accomplishment on his radar:

  • “To place higher at state. Also, after I graduate, I would like to run a marathon sometime. ”

Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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