William McLemore, left, and Matt Hartnett
Matt Hartnett of Roxana High made his mark by jumping. And William McLemore of East Alton-Wood River High enhanced his grade by running.
Together, they created memorable moments during the past track season. That’s why the seniors are the AdVantage News’ Boys Co-Track Athletes of the year. They both stirred their own measure of success.
“Matt’s a great competitor and he really knows how to take things to the next level,” Shells’ coach Juli Akal said.
EA-WR coach Russ Colona said of McLemore: “He has been one of the best runners I ever had. His hard work and dedication has set an example for the other athletes in our program.”
The 6-foot-5 Hartnett, also a key player for the Roxana High basketball team, finished his track season with a flourish. He won triple jump by going 43 feet, 9 inches at the Springfield Southeast Class 2A Sectional, then took fifth at state by leaping a personal best 44-8.
“It was pretty awesome to finish fifth at state,” said Hartnett, a reliable point producer for Roxana basketball. “Doing that and scoring 1,000 points in basketball were my biggest thrills in high school sports.”
He added, “I never had jumped more than 41 feet before I went into the sectional. So I didn’t think I could win it. But then I jumped more than 43 feet in both the sectional and at state.”
Curiously, Hartnett didn’t participate in track his junior season. He played baseball after competing in track as a sophomore. So his return to the jumping pits sparked the Shells. Hartnett won the triple jump, long jump and high jump in the small-school portion of the Madison County Meet.
“I used to play baseball in junior high and I was pretty good at it,” Hartnett said. “So I thought I’d go out for it my junior season. But I decided to go back to track as a senior and I’m glad I did.”
He said, “I was already in shape from soccer and basketball and I had confidence I would do well in track.”
Akal said, “Matt’s sectional performance in the triple jump was one of the most exciting events I’ve watched all year. It was amazing to see him so focused on improving. He was determined to go out with a great performance at state and it obviously paid off.”
McLemore, heading to McKendree University in Lebanon, received the AdVantage News’ Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year honors in the fall. He didn’t look back or let up in the spring while mostly running the 1,600-meters or 3,200-meters.
He helped the Oilers win their first MadCo title and then won the 3,200-meters in 9 minutes, 57.68 seconds in the Springfield Southeast Sectional. McLemore was the lone runner in the rugged 2A field to break the 10-minute mark.
At state, he finished 20th in the 3,200-meters at 9:58.19 to put the finishing touches on a successful EA-WR career.
“We had a great track season and I accomplished just about everything I wanted to do,” McLemore said. “We won the Madison County and Prairie State meets and I won the sectional. That was probably the best race I ran all season.”
McLemore is eyeing more good times in college competition.
“I’m already training for it and I’m excited about running cross country and track,” he said. “I can do the things I love in college and I’m still pretty close to home.”
Colona said, “He set the standard for what we have accomplished in cross country and track the last four years. He truly deserves any praise or rewards he gets. Will is one Oiler that truly will be missed.”