By Kyle Daubs
Quincy Hamilton really put everything into perspective.
As the team prepares for the Class 2A Olney Sectional, the junior Wave runner gave his input on what the team needs to do to get ready for Saturday.
“We need to get a couple nice easy practices, but I think the hay is in the barn,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton took a line from coach Steven Conlon from three years ago when a core predominantly made up of junior runners prepared for the postseason.
“Coach Conlon, our eighth-grade cross country coach, told us this before sectionals and (it) has stuck with me since,” said Hamilton. “It means there is nothing else to do and all the hard work is done. We just need to finish this season strong.”
Strong could be the perfect adjective to describe this boys cross country team, led by Brock Davee, who finished third in regionals with a time of 15 minutes, 48.8 seconds for the three-mile race.
There’s the senior captain in Mac Beadles who might be the most well-spoken athlete in the county.
However, it’s the strong bond that many of these Wave runners refer to when talking about why their team has been so successful in 2020.
“We might be sitting at different skills levels but we are all here to push each other to success,” said Beadles. “From that motivation this team has blossomed and grown. We are one team. We all depend on another to achieve. With that, we want to gain success in ourselves and with one another. We don’t want to settle.”
The Wave don’t want to settle for a Sectional berth either. Despite finishing fourth as a team, Trent Hettinger said the team doesn’t just want to be happy with their efforts from last week. They want more.
“I want to be able to do the best I can for my team,” said Hettinger. “My team wants to be known as a state qualifying team even though there isn’t one this year. If I do well enough to help secure that, then I’m sure the individual time and place will come right along with it.”
There will be no state meet this year, so teams are looking for the title of qualifying for state. If the team can’t make it out of the sectional, the team’s No. 1 runner, Davee, has the best odds. Davee beat out Olney’s Gavin Kirby, among others, at the Regional in an impressive fashion.
But, Davee always goes back to the team.
“I think I have a shot,” said Davee. “I’ve been working hard. My teammates really help me out with that too. It’s been a long season and some of us have started before the summer when track was shut down. The coaches have been supporting us the whole season and motivating us. Placing top-10 at this Sectional would be really nice. This sectional is stacked with great talent every year.”
The Taylorville Regional arguably had some of the best individual talent. Along with Mahomet-Seymour, it featured the individual champion, Taylorville’s Chris Cherry. Yet, the Green Wave still secured two members of their team in the top-10 standings.
“The most memorable thing was the finish,” said Hettinger. “As I came down along the fence to turn into the finish, I finally passed two important people to help secure the team’s final standings. Coach Schumacher really stood out to me that race. She was always reminding me that those two were the ones I needed to pass.”
That also included a season-best out of the senior captain Beadles. Heading into the regional, Beadles was running in the upper 17s. When the lights were on, Beadles dropped seven seconds off his best time to finish 17:37.0.
“It was when they started yelling for me the other cheers went away and I was there in the moment alone with my team,” said Beadles. “Nothing else was there. As I was racing all I could do was keep repeating the words my coaches and teammates said to me. All I thought was ‘Your team needs you Mac. More than your team needed you before.’ All I did was focus on those words.”
Hamilton registered a top-25 finish to pace the No. 3 runners, while Sam Ferrar capped off the top 5 with a time under 18-minutes. The Green Wave’s top-5 were generally under the 18-minute mark for a three mile time all season. Hamilton believes that happened because the team has pretty much ran side by side since their days running for Coach Conlon.
“Our team is so close due to our time spent together,” said Hamilton. “Since middle school, we have been building off of each other’s strengths, and our bond has carried into high school. We are always trying to benefit each other and staying encouraging.”
Most of these runners ran track and lost their track season due to COVID-19. To pull this off makes it feel even more special.
“Honestly, it means a lot because that means I get to have another race with my team,” said Davee. “We get to show off our stuff again. This year has been stressful with school and COVID. I’m just glad we got to have a season and are producing the way we are.”
In the end, the Green Wave are projected as a middle-tier sectional team. However, Beadles says don’t count out the team until the meet is officially over.
“We put in the hours, the hard work, and the discipline to achieve where we are today,” said Beadles. “We don’t stop at being average. We want to achieve something greater. I feel there has always been one goal through this season and that was to achieve great success as a team. From my early years, Coach Haacke said three simple words. Run as one. I never fully grasped that idea until I ran with this team.”