JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
Shelbyville cross country has owned the 2012 season, winning five big time meets and climbing to #2 in the state rankings. On Saturday at the Carlinville Regional, they continued their dominance, except against defending state champs Mt. Zion.
The #2 state-ranked Rams fell to #4 state-ranked and defending state champion Mt. Zion. Mt. Zion scored 35 points to the Rams 49. #7 Monticello was a distant third place with 74 points. And #24 Neoga finished well in fourth with 125 points.
“This was without a doubt the toughest regional in the state with four ranked teams,” said Ram coach Kevin Kramer. “I thought we ran pretty good, but Mt. Zion was just too tough today and the better team won. They really have some strong front runners and we didn't get out as fast as we needed to. Hopefully next week, we can get out a little faster. We will have to because there will be five more ranked teams feeding into the Effingham sectional including #1 Champaign St. Thomas More. That will mean there will be nine state-ranked teams fighting for five qualifying spots for the state meet. Last year, the top five schools of this sectional finished 1-2-3-4 and 6th at the state meet. The one good thing is if we get through we have a chance to do well at the state meet.”
The Rams did break the school record for fastest team time on any course. The Rams ran 1:18.20 to beat their earlier record this year on the St. Joseph-Spartan Classic course.
“Its tough to be too disappointed when you have a team that ran between 15:20 to 16:00,” Coach Kramer said. “I am very proud of their effort. They are a really fun bunch to watch. We did put five guys in the top 15, so it was great to see all of them get medals for their efforts.”
Alex Matlock ran a personal record of 15:20 for 6th place. Neil Yockey ran a personal best of 15:28 to finish right behind in 7th. Myles Foor also finished in a personal best of 15:37 to finish in 9th place.
“Our top three really ran well,” Coach Kramer said. “We got a little behind the top pack, but Alex was able to move up. Neil held his spot also. Myles has only been back about two and a half weeks and he is getting stronger every week. I really think he will be able to stay up with Alex and Neil within the next two weeks.”
Junior Drennian Martin ran a personal best of 15:55.
“Drennian needs to run a little quicker first mile,” Coach Kramer said. “He got a little too far behind the top three and we had a little too big of gap between the front three and him. We will work on that at the sectional meet. But he still ran a heck of a time.”
Seth Applegate was the fifth Ram scorer, running a time of 16:00 and securing them the regional runner-up.
“Seth ran the best race of his career as he ran a 16:00,” Coach Kramer said. “Seth looked strong the whole race and we needed him to step up. It was great to see him run well. That gave us a 40 second gap 1-5, which is pretty good.
Not scoring for the Rams was senior Cory Powers. Cory ran a 16:24 for 22nd place.
“Cory didn't run terrible, but he can run a lot better” Coach Kramer said. “He ran a 16:30 last week on Monticello's course and this course was much faster. He should have been well under 16:00. We really need him to step up. He has the speed to run with those top three or four runners. He just needs the confidence to do it.
Freshman Marcus Skinner was the Ram 6th man, running a 16:37 for 27th place.
“Marcus ran OK, but he was not feeling 100% and was a little week,” Coach Kramer said. “We are going to rest him up and see if we can get him healthy for the sectional meet. He has had a tough last week of practice. He is just a little run down.”
On the girls side, not only sophomore Molly Yockey, but freshman Morgan Powers secured spots at the upcoming sectional at Effingham.
Yockey, the Lady Ram leader all season placed 15th and medaled in a time of 18:46. Powers placed 25th in a time of 20:27.
“Molly and Morgan both ran real strong races,” Coach Kramer said. “Both of their times were among their best of the season. Our regional was probably the toughest in the state as #1 and 3-time defending state champion Decatur St. Teresa was in the field as well as #2 Monticello. Both of those teams’ girls dominated the top spots. Molly has a shot to advance to state next week, but needs to move up a little. She will be right on the bubble for a state berth. Morgan’s goal was to advance to the sectional meet and she did that. She has had a pretty good freshman year.”
Coach Kramer laid out expectation for the Effingham Sectional next Saturday.
“We are really looking forward to run against St. Thomas More and Mt. Zion again next week,” Kramer said. “They may be the top two teams in the state. Our main goal is to advance and have our best race at state the following week.”