GOREVILLE -- Goreville is most notably recognized for having outstanding teams in softball, baseball and basketball. But what about track? For a school that doesn't have a track, the small town just south of Marion has started producing some very competitive track athletes in the past few years.
Goreville's first "All-State" track athlete was Alma Ray, who won the men's long jump at the 1928 IHSA State Track Meet with a jump of 22'9.25," a jump that would be competitive enough to win in 2022.
It was a long 84 years before Goreville produced another state caliber athlete in Zeke Snell, who placed in 2012 in the men's 400 m Dash. And 2021 brought two additional state-ranked athletes with Macie Tosh, the first female Goreville trackster who placed in the 300 m hurdles; and Cole Rushing, who placed in both the 100 m and 200 m dashes and now runs for the Southern Illinois University Salukis.
Fast forward to this season, and an unknown Goreville freshman emerged on the scene and captured the men's triple jump title at the IHSA Sectional in Fairfield. Elijah Beaver produced a personal best by out-jumping all competitors with a leap of 12.44M, or 40'81."
With that leap, he qualified for the 2022 IHSA 1A State Track Meet.
What is so significant about this young man's performance is that he only recently started triple-jumping. One day in April, Beaver decided he was going to invest some time and research into the event.
"With speed and jumping, I felt it was an event I could excel at and it would be a very good choice for me," Beaver said. "I wanted to be a part of the triple jump community, and I just thought it was cool and wanted to do it."
Beaver took his first competitive jump on April 18 at the Roger Lee Invitational in McLeansboro, with a leap of 37'6.5." On May 18, he recorded his winning sectional jump of 40'9.75"; a three-foot improvement in only a month's time.
The freshman is ranked 20th in the state preliminary seedings.
"I am happy with being ranked 20th, but I hope by the time I'm done, I am ranked higher than that," Beaver said.
With his determination, practice ethic and enthusiasm for the event, don't count him out of getting into the State Finals this week.
It is going to be fun watchinghim grow and continue to improve over the next three years.