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Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond's Layton Hall is forging his own path in his final cross country races
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Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond's Layton Hall is forging his own path in his final cross country races

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Layton Hall

Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond cross country runner Layton Hall (373) will be looking to repeat as regional champion on Saturday at the Class 1A St. Teresa regional at Hickory Point Golf Club. 

ARTHUR — The 2019 cross country postseason was a mixed bag for the Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond (ALAH) boys cross country team.

The Knights grabbed their first boys regional title in program history and their No. 1 runner, Layton Hall, was regional champion with a time of 15:29.

But at the sectionals, ALAH missed moving on to the state tournament as a team by just 15 points. And after a strong start at Detweiler Park in the state meet, Hall faded at the end. 

"Going into (state), I was ranked to finish in the top five and I was sitting pretty good throughout the whole race and I was about 10th, but in the last half mile my body just gave out on me and I didn't have what it took to finish," Hall said. "I did not finish too well."

Thinking about that last race of the season motivated Hall's training in the offseason and through the COVID-19 pandemic. He ran his personal best of 14:53 to win the Saber Corn Invitational at his first meet of his senior season. 

"I came out really strong after the really bad finish to my junior season and I think the anger carried over and I was sub-15 for the first time in my career," Hall said. "I'm trying to redeem myself in the postseason over these next couple weeks and I will give it all I've got."

Hall and the Knights will be running at the Class 1A St. Teresa Regional at Hickory Point Golf Course on Saturday. Following a Lincoln Prairie Conference championship, the team has worked its way to No. 10 in the rankings of 1A teams, according to MileSplit Illinois. 

The team — sophomores Logan Beckmier, Lyle Adcock ,and Jacob Adcock and junior Jace Green — can all record times under 17:15, which makes them a dangerous team in the playoffs. 

"We ran at Tolono Unity last Friday night and our No. 4 runner (Lyle Adcock) dropped 30 seconds on his PR and our No. 3 (Green) runner dropped 10 seconds," ALAH cross country coach Lyle Dorjahn said. "(The top runners) are down at the 16:20s now and our No. 5 (Jacob Adcock) has a shot of breaking 17 minutes on Saturday at regionals.

"If Layton does what Layton does and Logan does what he does as our No. 2 and everybody else maintains, we are excited for Saturday.

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"It is the toughest regional in the state, I think most people would say that, and a week later hopefully we'll get to be able to go back and do it all again with the same people (at the St. Teresa Sectional).

Hall said he's seen tremendous improvement from his teammates since last season and feels the Knights are prepared for another regional championship. 

"They are really a great group of guys and when they first came along last year, because most of them were freshmen and they were all kind of shy, I think I kind of help them a little bit and they've become really strong runners," Hall said. "I think that we are the underdogs coming into this postseason but we are capable of beating any of these bigger teams."

The regional course will have a different layout from previous years and will be one long loop rather than running two shorter laps. The boys and girls runners will also be split into three flights to allow for social distancing. 

"I'm not a big fan of the flights that we have to run because I'm sure we're not the only team that our guys feed off of each other and when you are running just your first two or three together, it create some issues," Dorjahn said. "It is what it is and so far we've been successful with it. 

"I don't think we've seen our best this year. I think these guys are due for some time drops and I'm not sure if Layton has had the accelerator mashed all the way to the floor yet, so to speak. He's looking to tear one off and I think that's going to happen here in the next two weeks."

Hall's older brother is Logan Hall, a Herald & Review Cross Country and Track Runner of the Year, and currently a runner for the University of Illinois, and through the years, Layton said he feels he has emerged from Logan's shadow for his final high school races. 

"In my freshman year I got to run with him, and when I was younger that was definitely a struggle for me," Layton said. "In my sophomore and junior year, I felt that pressure a little bit, but in my senior year I think I've grown a lot more mature and I don't let that bother me anymore. I can just be my own person and just do what I can do and not worry about what Logan did in his past.

"Breaking 15 (minutes) is definitely the goal this weekend but I'll let the competition flow with me and I will feed off the other runners and I think that will help a lot. I'm feeling really good going into this and I think I'm in the best shape I have ever been in and I am feeling really strong."


PHOTOS: Mount Zion cross country meet at Fort Daniel Conservation Area

Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten

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The beginning of a cross country regional and sectional race is normally one of the most chaotic events in high school sports. More than 100 runners are lined up together behind the starting line waiting for the gun to fire and they would dash down the course in tight-knit packs on their three-mile journey. Family and friends were packed in closely along the rope barriers and the team tent area was a circus of action as runners quickly came and went to prepare for a race.

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