coy sterkel

Tuscola girls’ track and field coach Drew Sterkel poses for a photo with the Warriors’ Class 1A state championship trophy last Monday outside the school.

How did winning a state title affect the program going into 2023?

“Our numbers are up, about five people from last year. One of the best things about it is, yeah, we lost (multiple-time state champion) Alyssa Williams where you’re guaranteed 36 points pretty much, but we’ve got our core group coming back and a superb freshman this year (Kate Foltz) who already has broken two school records (in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs). We were just trying to keep that buzz and excitement through the long winter months. It’s been difficult, but it’s also been easy at the same time just because of the kids that we have. Coming off of basketball (with the girls’ team winning 33 games and a regional title), it just feels like everything flows over to the next thing. It’s quite remarkable what we have going on here in Tuscola.”

Who are some athletes to watch out for the Warriors this season?

“We’ve got (sophomore and multi-event state medalist) Lia Patterson coming back. She’s hoping to continue working in the hurdles and some sprints. We’ve got (senior) Mia Hausmann coming back, who’s a two-time all-stater in relays. (Junior) Natalie Hasting is already throwing over a foot better than she did last year in the shot put. (Junior) Addison Pettry is coming back in hurdles. She’s looking to do some more. (Sophomore) Kenna Clodfelder is jumping exactly where she was jumping at the end of last year in triple jump. Kate Foltz, she was all-state in cross-country. She’s probably the hardest worker I’ve ever encountered. (Junior) Jillian Alexander is dealing with a hip injury right now. We’re just taking it as slow as we possibly can.”

What are your expectations for this season’s group?

“This year, it’s a little bit different. I’ve got a really, really big jigsaw puzzle and a bunch of really good pieces. I just don’t know how they fit in yet. ... Lia Patterson and Mia Hausmann are very similar. They’re more of the ‘do as I do, follow me’ type of thing. They’re not necessarily like Alyssa, who was a ‘rah-rah, let’s get people going’ (leader). They’ve created a business-as-usual type of environment to where we know what we need to do to be good. We don’t have to talk about it. Let’s go out and do it. Which is very different than last year. ... We haven’t discussed (state). We haven’t talked about it as of yet. I think they almost feel like, ‘We were fourth just a couple years ago (and) obviously we won last year.’ They feel that we have the ability to be there (again).”

Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at, 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, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).