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➜ Why he’s Coach of the Year: Our repeat girls’ Coach of the Year didn’t let his athletes rest on their laurels after finishing second in last year’s Class 1A state meet. Remmert oversaw a top seven that included just one senior and led it to the team title in all but one of the Sages’ events this season, including Monticello’s capturing of a second consecutive sectional title.

➜ Why he first decided to coach cross-country: “I ran all four years in high school and thoroughly defined myself through running. I enjoyed it so much myself and I learned so much through it that I thought coaching would be a great way to take a personal passion and use it as a vehicle to help others. I had a dual major, community health and school health, and I student taught at Mahomet in 1990 in the fall. I was able then to work with Coach (John) King and was an assistant with him. My career ended up moving toward the community health option, however, and I thought that coaching had passed me over. But many years later, my oldest daughter Hannah said, ‘The track coach at school may need some help with the distance team. Maybe you should talk with him.’ So, that was 10 years ago now. I owe my coaching success, really, to her and multiple mentors that guided me from my youth.”

➜ His top highlight from the season: “There are many highlights. It was a very difficult season with the COVID crisis, but the way the teams, boys’ and girls’, came together to confront a challenge was probably the highlight of the season for me. Winning a sectional for the second year in a row and only the second time in school history was a great achievement.”

➜ The most challenging part of coaching cross-country amid a pandemic: “Clearly, the COVID crisis posed a significant challenge. But I believe God gives us these circumstances for a reason, and we just have to try and understand the purpose behind it. Although it was especially difficult at times, it helped me to understand better how dependent the kids are on each other, and I think that it played a role in strengthening the bonds between the girls. Shared challenges and a shared mission will help to build those bonds, and without the relationships established firmly I don’t know if we would’ve performed as well.”

➜ His favorite event of the season: “I missed our old meet schedule quite a bit. Each weekend was a new course and a new meet that we had never run on before. I’d have to say I really liked running an invitational on our home course. We don’t have big meets there very often, apart from an occasional conference meet, due to the spatial difficulties in some areas of the course.”

➜ What it meant for his team to compete during the pandemic: “Frankly, I really was thinking they would’ve pushed the season back, so it was a bit of a surprise for me. I’m really glad they ended up having one, even in a different format. I feel very fortunate that we were able to compete in any sort of meets given the circumstances, and I feel absolutely horrible for the teams that are still waiting on their fall-season sports to happen. I work as the local public health director for the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department, so in many ways I was wearing a dual hat as we progressed along the season. I was very disappointed that they didn’t have a state meet. There were ways that a state meet could’ve been held safely and I suggested those to IHSA, but it was a difficult consideration for them. Our athletic director, Mr. (Dan) Sheehan, kept statistics on how many athletes in our fall sports were COVID cases/contacts, and the fall sports teams really had no bearing on the community/school spread whatsoever. We had one runner who was named as a close contact, and that was the only situation that touched our team.”

➜ His top career cross-country accomplishment as a coach: “It doesn’t get much better than winning a state championship. But in a greater sense, seeing kids that I coached still running years later, or having them still reach out to me on occasion to check on how the old dude is doing, or seeing them successfully transfer what they learned from sport over to a greater responsibility absolutely means the world to me.”

➜ His top career cross-country/distance running accomplishment as an athlete: “I’m 53 years old, so we’re talking a long time ago when we talk about my top athletic accomplishments. I did OK with my running back then, but running multiple marathons as an adult still probably ranks highest in my mind.”

➜ A cross-country/distance running accomplishment he’s still hoping to achieve: “Our boys’ team has won two state titles now, but I would like to help the girls win at least one as well at some point in my future. I’m not close to being finished yet and I want to see our teams continue to be successful, but this isn’t a job for old people like me either.”

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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