High expectations awaited the Decatur Eagles from day one of workouts. A preseason No. 1 ranking in August immediately put the pressure on, but they ended it the same way they started it.
The Eagles flew through the competition, embracing the ranking and working hard to prove they deserved to be there.
“It started to come together three years ago,” Decatur cross-country coach David Park said. “There was a learning curve there. This year they came out day one and had a purpose. They knew they had an opportunity. It was a fun season.”
Decatur raced to district, regional and state titles, winning the state championship by 21 points.
Park says his team did a good job staying grounded, with so much on their shoulders.
“When the No. 1 ranking came out, we had a few discussions,” Park said. “I told them to be careful – it could be a detriment. They knew what they were capable of, though, and give them credit for staying the course. I could tell when we got off the bus at state if we didn’t win, we were going to have to be beat by somebody that was running out of their minds.”
Junior Taylor Clayton added: “We were like brothers. Every day we would hang out. We were constantly with each other and just like a big family.”