MT. VERNON — Not many cross country teams have the luxury of returning a state qualifier.
Mt. Vernon has that top-flight athlete in senior David Modert. He finished 34th in last season's state final, and coach Clint Turner said he wants Modert to push for a top 25 finish and all-state honors this fall. It's a mark only about a half dozen Rams runners have achieved in the school's history.
Modert also enters the season as the defending South Seven cross country champion.
“And I think he's ready and what we're working on with him is jumping to another level with our training,” Mt. Vernon boys cross country coach Clint Turner said. “If you can get inside that top 25 and all state, that's a real accomplishment. In the history of our school, we haven't had a lot of those.”
A season ago, Mt. Vernon placed second in the South Seven Conference as a team behind Carbondale. The Rams rallied to win the sectional but failed to qualify as a team for state.
“Boy I thought we were really on a roll and ready to go into postseason and man we just didn't run very well at that state-qualifying sectional as a team,” Turner said. “And that was the end of our season, which I thought we had a shot at going to the state meet. I think we have a shot at going to the state meet this year.”
Turner said he's tweaked some of the workouts this season, and once again qualifying for Peoria is a goal. Turner added the opening few meets at Murphysboro and Granite City will be used as a springboard.
“We'll kick off with two really good meets to start with that will be the start of the speed work,” Turner said.