PBL High School Cross Country for the start of the season

PBL cross country runner Trixie Johnson runs in a relay race at the Guyot course on Friday.

PAXTON — The Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School cross country team will begin its 2022 season with a preseason run on Wednesday.

“We’ve been working hard to get cross country going and racing,” said PBL head coach Dustin Franckey.

The cross-country runners started running “pretty early,” according to Franckey, after taking a week and a half off from the team after the track season ended.

“A lot of work has been put in by a lot of them and I can’t wait to see the fruits of their labor,” Franckey said.

Senior Trixie Johnson comes from 45th1st place at the IHSA Class 1A State Meeting last fall and a fourth-place finish in the 800-meter dash at the State Track and Field Meeting last spring.

“She had a great performance in the spring,” Franckey said. “I’m really excited to see how she rides when the weather cools down. She ran about 20 percent more volume this summer than last year, and last year she ran brilliantly. I’m excited to see what she’s up to this fall.

This will be the second straight fall season that Johnson will split time between cross country and volleyball.

“She’s definitely going to make the most of her senior year,” Franckey said.

Johnson is one of five seniors listed on PBL’s cross-country tally, four of whom — along with Kate Wilson, Aiden Kerr and Tyson Franckey — helped the Panthers finish second on the boys’ side and on in last year’s Regionals to finish fourth on the girls’ side.

“They’ve really taken the lead and have done a great job so far, making our younger team members feel included and getting them in for some good workouts,” Franckey said.

Kerr finished 13thth in the PBL regional race last year.

“He did a lot of miles over the summer,” Franckey said. “He worked very hard. He has entered the leadership role quite well.”

Fellow senior Connor Rodriguez joins PBL’s cross country roster after transitioning from homeschooling to the PBL school system.

According to Franckey, Rodriguez had some experience running marathons before attending public school.

“He ran 50 to 70 miles a week,” Franckey said. “He is able to cover many kilometers. He’s just not used to running fast. It should be a great season for him to just discover how fast he can run three miles or whatever distances he can run. It’s going to be a learning curve, but I think if he’s able to put in a lot of mileage and training and understand the piece of cross country with delayed gratification, he’ll be fine. He will be a great addition to the team.”

Isaiah Busby returns after number 26 for his second seasonth in the regional championships last year.

“He’s really adjusted to Connor and Aiden, so I think we’re going to see a lot of growth from him,” Franckey said. “He was really handsome. He stayed healthy all summer.”

Tyson Franckey was 58th in the regional championships last year.

“He put a lot of miles between cycling 20 miles 3-4 days a week and running sometimes twice a day,” said Dustin Franckey. “We should see a lot of growth from him. It’s been fun coaching him and being his dad when we come home.”

Mackenzie Swan returns for her junior year after turning 32nd in last year’s Regionals, while sophomores Sydney Pickens and Grace McCoy placed 33rdapprox and 42ndand Wilson was 46th.

“Our participation was really good over the summer, so they put in a lot of work,” Franckey said. “Hopefully that translates into some fast race times.”

After the preseason, PBL will compete in the Saber Corn Classic on August 27th.

After the Cowchip Classic in Chrisman on September 3rd, PBL will host their own invitational tournament on September 10th.

“We should have a lot of kids doing their respective all-time class list, and we’ll see if Trixie can lower her PBL course record here this fall,” Franckey said.

The Panthers will compete on September 24th in the Spartan Classic on the streets of St. Joseph.

“The kids are always running fast there,” Franckey said. “The kids all want to make the top 10 list.”

After attending Monticello on September 29 and the Illini Prairie Conference meeting at the High School of St. Thomas More on October 4, PBL is scheduled to attend a meeting hosted at Prairie Central’s Pontiac Golf Course on October 8 becomes.

“This meeting appears to be getting canceled more than we have, but we look forward to this meeting,” Franckey said.

After hosting the end-of-season meeting on . October . On October 11, PBL will participate in a reunion hosted by Peoria Heights High School on October 15 at the State Meeting Grounds, Detweiller Park, before entering regional competitions on October 22.

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