Team Fulton does more than enough – Officials from county are
If you’re traveling on Farmington Road tomorrow, or Illinois 116 or U.S. Rt. 24, you might want to pull off to the side.
There will be a parade of Fulton County folk heading to Peoria Stadium.
The Journal Star Honor Roll Meet is a quarter-century strong primarily because of the donation of time and expertise by literally hundreds of track and field afficianados from all over the newspaper’s circulation area.
The nerve center of that generosity is Fulton County, particularly if you allow us to expand the definition of Spoon River country a little bit.
For instance, Robert Moore has been an institution in Yates City since before the HRM started in 1979. His school, which sits a bit north of the Fulton line in Knox County, feeds Farmington High.
In fact, Yates City School is closing as part of District 265’s huge consolidation into one large grade school/high school complex. On the last day of its existence and his career there, the retiring Moore took time to call to make sure the HRM had him listed among its finish-line judges.
We do, just as we have had 21 times previously.
Hanna City and Trivoli are other Farmington feeders (suburbs?) that don’t actually sit in Fulton, but you’ll find plenty of purple and gold in the closets. You’ll also find HRM field-event judges Bob Clark (pole vault/Trivoli) and Jim Hardesty (shot put/Hanna City Logan), as well as first-time helpers Chuck Eiker and Charles Balagna.
Hardesty is like Moore and many others in maintaining top-notch grade-school track and field out Fulton way. He’s also one of three former HRM winners on this year’s volunteer staff, joining 23-year record-holder Eric Volkert (4:15 in the 1981 1600 meters for Bergan, now on the awards crew) and Sara Deig, a state champion hurdler for Illini Bluffs in the mid-1980s who called, unsolicited, to say she’d help this year and maybe bring a friend or two as well.
Deig’s Glasford upbringing also missed Fulton County soil, by a marsh or so, but she and longtime IB coach Vic Durcholz (long and triple jumps) can hop on Route 24 with the caravan coming in from Lewistown and Canton.
We told you last year the honorary captain of the Fulton County team, Canton’s Bev Krider, passed her Games Committee reins down the road a stretch to Lewistown’s Barb Kittell. The latter was the only one sheepish about being a noncoach on the committee, everyone else knowing she has dedicated her adult life to the sport for the exact pay we’ll give her.
Kittell gets pancakes at the state meet, where she’s a dugout fixture. We’ll get her a sandwich.
The coaching in the family comes from husband Keith, half century’s worth if you double his 27 years because he coaches boys and girls.
That combination doesn’t just mean getting a few more kids’ attention at practice every day. It means as a victim of your own competence, you host a girls sectional for the third year in a row, try to roll out the same crew to put on a boys sectional a week later, and coordinate the latter while going to and from Charleston.
You couldn’t take a year off helping judge the state meet because wife and daughter need rides to their finish-line jobs and, let’s not forget, you’re coaching.
The man somehow never sacrifices the coaching.
Kittell would be forgiven a scream at the concept of another track meet, but instead he’ll bring some stuff, advise the HRM’s adoption of the HyTek software system of running a meet, and judge exchanges in the 4x100s.
If there’s a number greater than the HRM volunteer army, it might be coaches who have offered to dig a second sand pit at the venerable Stadium. Alas, there remains a single landing area, meaning a full day for Pat Ketcham. The Spoon River College coach makes it three levels of Fulton educators chipping in to make Tuesday memorable for high school athletes.
Ketcham could catch a ride with fellow Cantonite Warren McGhee, a man so dedicated to the IHSA meets he used to commute to EIU when he was an Ohio resident. He’ll work the shot put with Hardesty.
Then there’s Farmington High, where boys coach Dave Giagnoni’s kajillion career hours include about a dozen every year in our office, helping put the entry lists together when most guys might like a day to recover from sectionals.
The Games Committee member would seem to have given enough to his alma mater to have something named after him, but he has to get in line behind his predecesor, Tuffy Bowen.
Call Tuffy the male counterpart to Krider as captain of Team Fulton. He was so interested in credit for his 25 years as a starter and finish judge at the HRM that all he talked about was how 10 years ago, Farmington swept all four hurdles races.
It’s in the book. Dennis Staggs in a then-record :38.9 in the 300s, and :14.3 in the 110s, which tied a record. Seniors Heidi Reed and Kim Riekena won the 100 intermediates and 300 lows, respectively.
“I just think that’s kind of neat, from a little school,” Bowen said, and he’s right.
It was neat. But not surprising. After all, the kids were from Fulton County.
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