Back and ready for action once again is Elsberry Cross Country Coach Ezra Tillotson along with his assistant Coach Errol Spratt.
“I was asked towards the middle of the third quarter if I would like to take over the team once again, which I told them yes, but only if I could have Spratt as our assistant,” explained Tillotson. “Although we have lost a couple of key runners to either graduating or other responsibilities, I still think we have a solid team in the works.”
With help from Anne Marie Bufford, a senior; Naomi Gladney and Maggie Spratt, Tillotson has already booked rooms for State.
“These three will probably be my fastest runners this year,” said Tillotson. “We also have Anne Heintzelman back and Mandy Horne, who is one of our freshmen and who ran for me in junior high. We also have another new runner, Alexandria Smith.”
According to him, Smith appears to be extremely enthusiastic, likes the program and is thinking as she gets booted up, an even more solid team will aspire.
“I will have a team,” said Tillotson. “We just need to wait and see towards the end of the season, but I think we will have a very good, solid performing team.”
He isn’t calling this season a re-growth season, as he believes they can be just as good if not better than last season. One of the things he is saying will help is from Gladney, who at state last year helped lead them to a fourth place victory and Smith. However, if Gladney had been able to run at her full capability they could have gone further.
“If I can keep them all healthy, I think we will have an excellent team for the season,” explained Tillotson. “With what I have now and what I know I have coming, I’d say the next three years will be real good for us and our program.”
For the boy’s, Tillotson is looking at all three of his to step up and deliver. He has Ethan Miller, which is the only veteran senior runner for the boy’s. They also picked up new comer Austin King, who he said is well built and also enthusiastic about running for Elsberry this year. Finally, one of his eighth grade veterans, Jack Weakly, will also be moving up to the 5k.
Tillotson also mentioned that he is hoping King and Weakly will be able to recruit some more boys’ throughout the season. Although he has left and returned a number of times, Tillotson said this program is still a passion for him and he is excited about this season, as well as the upcoming seasons to really showcase his team’s abilities.
“We have a solid team, not to repeat myself, but I see no reason why we couldn’t go all the way with the talent we have this season,” said Tillotson. “I don’t see myself really coming back, as I don’t think I ever left. I still expect my kids to come ready to give all they have and I still believe we need to keep our runners healthy. Seeing the talent we have in and have coming, I don’t see myself getting off the horse anytime soon.”
The Elsberry Indians Cross Country team met for the first invitational of the season on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Linn High School for the 35th Annual Linn Invitational. It would be the junior high boy’s team in the 2500 meter run. Taking the line was Brendan Suddarth, who came in 119th place with a final time of 11:25.79 and Nathan Miller, who placed 154 with a final time of 15:38.41. Next up was the junior high girl’s team, which featured Faith Zimmermann taking a final time of 10:53.88 and took 26th place. Also hitting the line was Eva Gladney, who finished in 35th with a final time of 11:01.35 and Josie Horne who took 56th place with a final time of 11:46.65.
Next up was the Varsity girl’s team where Naomi Gladney took 28th place with a time of 22:45.83; Maggie Spratt took 54th place with a time of 24:36.29, Anne Marie Bufford took 65th place with a time of 25:33.15, Mandy Horne took 96th place with a time of 27:34.95, Allie Smith took 97th place with a time of 27:35.66 and Anne Heintzelman took 114th place with a time of 31:32.58.
The only Varsity boy to run was Ethan Miller who took 107th place with a time of 21:43.00. For the junior varsity boys team Jack Weakly took 52nd place with a time of 23:13.27 and Austin King who took 68th place with a time of 24:58.36.
“In normal circumstances I would say it would have been disappointing, but I keep in mind that there were several day’s that I could run these kids the way I would’ve liked to due to heat and weather,” said Tillotson. “But I will say that I am proud of all my runners and I look to see several of them being able to shave anywhere from a minute, if not two minutes off their times.”
Progressively, Tillotson said he looks to see a well, dedicated team taking the field and still believes they could see state.
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