La Salle-Peru junior Ryan Hartman had only run the 3,200 meters once this season before the Class 2A Geneseo Sectional, and he recorded a 10:56.86.
But looking at seeds and the other runners, Hartman and coach Adam Spencer felt the 3,200 gave him the better shot at state than the 1,600.
It turned out to be a great decision, as Hartman cut 24 seconds off his time, running a 10:32.9, to win the 3,200 at the sectional to earn a trip to the IHSA state meet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
“We wanted to keep his knees healthy and his body healthy,” Spencer said about why Hartman wasn’t running the 3,200 during the season. “But he had a great cross country season, so we knew he could do it [at the sectional].
“I’m really happy with how he’s done. Ryan has dealt with everything that’s been thrown at him this year, just like all the other kids. It’s a hard time to be a high school kid with all these different things going on. I’m happy he found some success among all the adversity this last year.”
After cutting significant time from his first to second 3,200 race of the season, Hartman is looking to run sub-10:30 at the state meet.
“I think his legs should be pretty fresh, so it should be a little bit of an advantage,” Spencer said. “We haven’t been pushing him super hard. The biggest thing was keeping him healthy. I’m glad he only ran (the 3,200) twice. He might have had some lingering knee issue or something. The shorter races are more about speed. If you’ve ever driven around La Salle or Peru, you’ve probably seen Ryan running, so he has the endurance. He just needed to get his leg speed up a little bit.”
Hartman, who was the NewsTribune Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year in the fall, is seeded 16th among the 22 runners at state.
“I think the biggest thing is rising to the occasion, dealing with the heat and getting fueled by the competition,” Spencer said. “I think he’s going to come through. When the lights are on, he usually performs at the end of the year.
“It helps when you have people to chase and when you’re in the mix. Hopefully, he can get in a pack where he can be right in the mix. I think in his heat there’s going to be a bunch of kids who are all right under 10:30, so I’m hoping he can stick with them and see how it goes.”
Although Hartman is the only competitor from L-P, there will be other area athletes as well, as Princeton is sending a contingent of three individuals in six events, along with a pair of relays.
Grant Foes is seeded third in the discus at 155 feet, 6¼ inches, and seeded 11th in the shot put at 47-9¼. Teegan Davis is seeded tied for sixth with eight others in the high jump at 6-1½, and eighth in the long jump at 21-7 – 2¾ inches behind the No. 3 seed. Keegan Fogarty is seeded 15th in the 200 at 22.7 seconds, and 16th in the 100 at 11.17 seconds.
Princeton’s 4x200 relay is seeded 15th at 1:32.08, and the Tigers’ 4x100 relay is seeded 17th at 44.14.
Logan Glancy will be the lead in both relays, followed by Ethan Thompson and Drew Harp. Fogarty will run the anchor in both, adding the anchor duties in the 4x100 relay with Ronde Worrels – who ran in that position at sectional – reporting to Northern Illinois University to start his college football career.
“We really only ask one thing of all our athletes, and that is to compete,” Princeton coach Dan Foes said. “That works out well for us because that is one quality that all eight of these athletes have in common. I believe that with all our great performances on the season, that our best is still yet to come. We are blessed to be taking such a great group of young men down to state.”