ARTHUR — Logan Hall, an Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond senior, verbally committed to attend and run track and cross country at the University of Illinois recently.
Hall, who holds the school record in cross country, with a time of 14:24.40 set at the Spartan Classic at St. Joseph Sept. 23, is glad he made the decision now.
"I wanted to make the decision before the state meet (Nov. 4) just so I could have that off my back," said Hall. "College coaches were talking to me after big meets this year and now I don't have to worry about that anymore."
Hall, who had planned official visits to Bradley University, the University of Missouri and the University of Mississippi, canceled all of them after his official visit to Illinois.
"I knew it was where I wanted to go," said Hall, who added he was in contact with the University of Wisconsin and Colorado.
Illinois is coached in cross country by Jake Stewart, who is also the distance coach in track under coach Michael Turk.
"Last year was the first year I started talking to him (Stewart), " said Hall. "He just came to some meets. The first time he talked to me officially was at the Champaign Centennial indoor meet Feb. 27. "He is a genuine guy and I feel like if I have problems other than running he will take the time to help you out."
Hall's first running idol was Jon Davis, who is a sophomore at Illinois. Davis is from Fithian and ran at Oakwood where he combined to win nine cross country and track titles. He won three straight titles in the state cross country meet at Peoria's Detweiller Park and had the sixth-fastest time his senior year in 2015 at 13:59.3. He was the USA Today/Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Hall ran in the 2015 state cross country meet, placing 20th overall and earning all-state honors with a time of 15:20.
"I think it is really cool I will be running with him at Illinois," said Hall. "I knew him in high school and was able to call him my friend. We have similar backgrounds in that we both come from the same size high schools, just different names. He was my guide for my official visit and I saw how it was for him. He had bigger and better offers. People were saying he should go to Oregon, but there is a reason why he didn't go there and on my visit I found that out. Illinois is a program that is on the rise. They moved up to 19th in the nation right now."
In 2013 Hall won his age group (11-14) in the Arthur Cheese Festival Rat Race with a time of f19:09.64 (5K) beating Charleston's Nick Oakley, who was third (21:12.85). Hall was fourth as an eighth grader in the state track meet in the 1,600 (5:04.95).
Hall has his own individual coach, Justin Jones, who also coached Davis and is a 2008 Oakwood grad and former runner for Olivet Nazarene University (2012 grad). Hall's coach at A-L-A-H is Derik Eaton, a 1985 Sullivan grad, who was the team's Most Valuable Track member where he finished second in the 3,200 (9:22.31) and was fourth in the cross country meet (15:13.1) in Class A and went on to run at Southwestern Michigan College.
"I go to Sullivan and do hill workouts," said Hall. "He knows the best place for hills there because he did it all of the time. He also understands I don't need to be at every meet and when to take it easy so I don't burn myself out at the end of the season."
Hall said he started dreaming about running in college his freshman year, and last year was when he knew it could become a reality.
As for when he verbally committed and word got around Hall said, "A bunch of people at school called me and when I walk through the halls they call me 'Mr. Illinois.' People are happy for me and they like that they are seeing my hard work start to pay off."
Hall won the 3,200 last May in the Class 1A state meet with a time of 9:13.74.