Fall Athlete of the Year: Jacob Bryan - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Fall Athlete of the Year: Jacob Bryan

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Entering just his second season with the Illini West cross country program Jacob Bryan already had a fair amount of expectations surrounding him.

"We had a fair amount of expectations that he could compete at the state level if he bought in to it and he really did, and continues to do so," said Illini West cross country head coach Ryan Bliss.

As the season raged on, however,  those expectations became a reality as Bryan won 10 out of 13 races while claiming conference and regional titles on his way to finishing eighth in the state meet. 

"It was really exciting," said Bryan. 

"It was my last high school meet in cross country. I went in with an open mind and felt like I didn't have any pressure and I just had fun."  

After all of that, off the course the Chargers' senior was voted The People's Choice for WGEM Fall athlete of the year by winning 45-percent of the more than 11-thousand votes cast. 

"I was pretty shocked to see that happen," admits Bryan. "Just knowing that I have all of that support of my family and friends, it means a lot."  

While Bryan was shocked, others weren't so much. 

"You know, actually, I wasn't real surprised," said Bliss. 

"He is a great combination of a lot of different things, athletic ability being one of them. But he is also a great kid." 

Behind the scenes, though, the Southern Illinois track and cross country commit has helped rebuild a proud cross country program.

"It's meant a lot to our program," Bliss says.  "You hope it is one of those things that just continues on and that he's set a standard and helped do that."  


 

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