Fieldcrest’s Mason Stoeger Changed Directions, Now He Heads to First State Cross Country Meet

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MINONK, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Fieldcrest senior Mason Stoeger credits a new found love of training for his success in cross country this fall.

He has been one of the top runners in central Illinois thanks to a sudden change in his goals and mindset.

“Over the winter I just shifted gears and really thought I had something special in this sport, so I’ve been working at it and huge improvements have come,” Stoeger said. “I’ve improved by over a minute and a half since last year so that’s really accomplishing.”

Two years ago, Stoeger was a member of the Fieldcrest football team which advanced to the state semifinals. He was also a player on the Knights basketball team which advanced to the Elite 8.

But just like many other athletes, the COVID-19 pandemic gave him a new outlook on competition.

“Football got cancelled (last fall) and I was like, I can focus full time on this sport and ended up liking it so I ended up quitting football,” explained Stoeger. “And at the time I was playing basketball, I ended up quitting that.”

After he became a full time runner, he qualified Shazam 2020 XC Championships, which served as an official state meet last fall when the Illinois High School Association didn’t conduct a state championship due to the pandemic.

In the spring, he finished his junior year with a sixth place finish in the 3200 meters at the IHSA state track finals. Now he’s motivated to earn an official state cross country medal at Detweiller Park on Saturday.

“I knew I had a little bit of natural talent with it. My coach always jokes around about genetics. She always says you kind of got the genetics. And so I was like ok, let’s put this natural talent to work,” said Stoeger. “And it’s incredible how much improvement you get from training.”

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