ARTHUR — The most successful runner in Arthur, Arthur-Lovington or Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond boys history, Logan Hall, made it official Monday, signing a National Letter of Intent in front of family, friends and coaches to run track and field and cross country at the University of Illinois.
"I knew this is was where I wanted to go," Hall said.
Hall, a senior, had verbally committed in late September. Since then Hall said he has received many congratulations.
"All of the congratulations are super cool," Hall said. "The stress was way off after I verbally committed and I wanted to get that done before state. It feels real now that I have signed."
Hall has earned seven IHSA state medals in track and cross country combined, including second place in the Class 1A state cross country meet where he ran a 14:30 on the three-mile course at Detweiller Park in Peoria this season.
ALAH cross country coach Derik Eaton, a 1985 Sullivan grad who went on to run at Southwestern Michigan College, said: "I feel truly blessed to have coached the end of of his career at Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond. As a former runner I am very pleased to watch him. A lot of coaches don't ever get to coach a young man like this. There have been a lot of good runners come through this area, but as I tell people in Arthur and surrounding towns, 'You may never get to see this again. So get out and watch him.'"
Hall, who was third in the cross country meet as a junior (14:44) and 20th in 2015 (15:20), said: "It is exciting to have it over with and there is no stress at all and I know where I am going next year."
Hall said his first running idol was Jon Davis, who is a sophomore at Illinois and recently qualified for the NCAA championships in cross country.
"We can't express our gratitude for what he has done not only for himself, but for what he has done for the cross country and track and field programs," said ALAH athletics director Jared Vanausdoll.
Hall, who was 11th as a seventh grader in the 1,600 at state (5;25.68), has earned second place and a state title in the 3,200 (9:37.76 in 2016 and 9:13.74 last year respectively).
"Seeing all my family here was great," Hall said. "They are the ones that make it happen. without them I would not be here. I thank my coaches, parents, family and friends."
Hall was fifth in the 1,600 in 2016 (4:32.74) and third last season (4:19.48).
"I am going to take some time off now and get ready for track," Hall said. "I think it will be pretty cool going up to the armory (Illinois) race and having my future teammates cheer me on."
Knights second-year track coach Bryton Ragon said: "He is a tough competitor. He makes my job look easy and I am excited to see him go back to state and to seeing what he can do in the future years. He can only get better. I definitely feel very blessed to have an athlete like Logan. He is truly a once in a lifetime athlete."
Eaton said he loves that Hall is going to Illinois.
"The Illinois program is turning around and I think he wanted to be a part of that turnaround," Eaton said. "I thought he chose the right school. He could have gone many other places where he could have been a one, two or three man, but he wanted to go to Illinois where he knows he has to fight to be in the top five to seven and that says a lot about him — that he is not afraid to compete with his teammates to run."
Eaton said he loves Halls' dedication to the sport.
"For a kid his age to be so dedicated to his craft of running is amazing," Eaton said. "He is an inspiration to the kids walking these halls at ALAH that if you set your mind to something and you go after it, it can happen."
What stands out in Hall's running is his strength, Eaton said.
"For being such a small young man he is so strong and that confirms the miles he puts in," Eaton said. "In cross country and track there are different things that can be done and he can cover them all. He can wait until the last 400, cover surges and go out hard. The way he is trained, anything that is thrown at him at a meet he can react to and a lot of runners can not do that."
Eaton is happy for Hall, who was fourth as an eighth grader at state in the 1,600 (5:04.95).
"Behind every good student-athlete and every good person there is a good family," said Eaton. "They are very tight and I know he has been an inspiration to his younger brother, Layton."
Logan, who plans to study kinesiology, is the son of Kurt and Darlene Hall.