The Last Lap
Boys Cross Country, Features, Seniors, Track

The Last Lap

By Maddox Weddle

Senior Tyler Dillon has been running track since he was in sixth grade. 

He wasn’t really a fan of the sport because he was more of a soccer player, but when travel soccer became too expensive he was forced to run. 

In middle school, Dillon was a successful runner, winning the county championship for the mile in seventh grade. After his middle school days were over, he was coming in as a 5-foot-9, 120-pound freshman. 

Even though he was a freshman, track and cross country coach Mackenzie Dye Conley still knew he was special.

“It has been really exciting because even as a freshman we saw the talent that he had and his potential to become one of our top athletes,” Dye Conley said.

Dillon is also a successful cross country runner even though he has had little experience. He didn’t start until his junior year where he barely even ran because he had soccer and was battling sickness and injuries. That didn’t stop him this year where he made it to state finals.   

Most people don’t find it fun running, but Dillon finds it more of an enjoyable sport. 

“It’s a place to get out of reality,” Dillon said. “It’s weird to describe it because everyone hates running, but once you get in this runner’s high I guess you could say it’s fun.”

Dillon received many scholarship offers from schools like Marian University, Wright State, Loyola Chicago and many more, but the one that stood out was Eastern Illinois University. 

He just knew it was going to be a good choice for him as the environment and the people made it feel special.

“I picked EIU because the opportunity and the people that were there,” Dillon said. “It felt more like family than random people I met a day ago.”

Dillon didn’t really know much about the school but when he looked into it he found some pretty cool facts like how Tony Romo, a former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, went there, as did Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton.

He signed to EIU on April 3, 2024 while sitting next to his mom and dad with his grandparents and coaches standing behind. Dillon will be studying finance or exercise science to become a physician’s assistant. 


Tyler signs his letter of intent to attend Eastern Illinois University. (Photo Provided)

On senior night on April 16,  Dillon focused on his one goal of the night: to break the 800 meter school record. He just had to get in the right state of mind.

 “My mindset was to go for the record. It was a beautiful night other than having fun with the seniors and enjoying it,” Dillon said.

He blew past everyone on the first lap and there was nobody in sight. He was on the final stretch and was hurting, but he knew he could do it. He finished the race with his heart racing and out of breath and was left to wonder if he broke the record. 

He looked at junior Marcus Bright’s dad Derrick’s stopwatch and saw that he did it; he beat the previous record of 1:58.02 held by Zac Stanley in 2019 with the new time of 1:57.01. He threw his hands in the air and the crowd stood up and cheered. He was so excited and he knew he made his mark in Delta High School history.

Tyler celebrates after breaking the school record in the 800-meter run. (Photo Provided)

His goals for the rest of the year is to make it to state in track. The goal he has for EIU is to be top 7 on the team and to become a successful college runner but that will take time and a lot of hard work and dedication. For now he is just finishing the high school season and getting ready for summer. 

Dillon’s summer will start off with taking a one- to two-week break from running completely so he is not burnt out. Then he will get straight into cross country training for more mileage because he is moving up into the 8,000-meter level instead of high school’s 5,000-meter distance. During that he will run with his current track and cross country runners for as long as he can before he leaves for college.

Dillon will just train to become a stronger and faster runner for his first college season.

May 16, 2024

About Author

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maddoxweddle Maddox Weddle is a freshman at Delta High School. He enjoys going to football games and hanging out with friends. He plays tennis and runs track.


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