While every athlete who competes for Centralia's Jim Newsted ends up following one of the most complex yet caring strategic local minds, those who contend for him on the Panthers varsity track and field team give a much calmer, low-key account than those who play for him on the football team.
But, there are a select few who know him under both sets of circumstances, the biggest and strongest of which generally end up being throwers when it comes time for the Field categories. One of those individuals who now competes for Hannibal-LaGrange University is Logan Ross. Having just completed his third season with the Trojans the former Panther is definitely making his mark at HLGU and with one more college season to go what lies ahead has the makings of an absolute breakout year.
"I was a fresh, new coach here at Hannibal when Logan was starting the recruiting process. He came and visited on a tour during my first couple weeks on the job," said HLGU Head Track and Field Coach Andy Lemons. "That's how Logan got on my radar. I recruited him pretty much all that year. That was 2016, so it's been a while."
Highlights this season for Ross include Feb. 4 at the Jim Green Invite in Jacksonville, IL., to close out the indoor season, where he set a new school record in the shot put with a throw of 14.17m. Then, just one week later at the American Midwest Conference Championships on Feb. 11 in Elsah, IL., the current Trojan broke that mark with a toss of 14.73 to once again set a new school record in the shot put.
"Logan has broken his own school record probably three or four times in the shot put in indoor and outdoor. He's also the indoor school record holder in the weight-throw," Lemons said. "He's progressed by feet every, single year. Unfortunately he had a (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) tear this past semester, which limited him throwing outdoor, so he didn't accomplish some of the goals he had."
Prior to his injury Ross was one of three athletes HLGU sent to compete at the National Christian College Athletic Association Indoor Track and Field Championships in Cedarville, OH., on Feb. 16, where he placed sixth with a throw of 14.07. Ross did take the track at the outdoor opener at Central Methodist University on Mar. 18, as well, and placed fourth in the shot put with a toss of 13.63.
"Logan is really strong in his spiritual walk. He is a great ambassador for our program and our school by the way that he walks in his spiritual life," Lemons said. "(Ross) is involved in several youth groups, church missions and all that good stuff around the area. He's a perfect fit for what we're looking for as far as an athlete here at (HLGU)."
In high school Ross earned All-State accolades in 2016 in the shot put, as well as All-Regional, All-District and All-Clarence Cannon Conference honors. He was also All-District in the Discus in 2015 and All-CCC in the Discus in 2014. As for what lies ahead, at this point that's really up to him because his capabilities are something those surrounding him have true faith in.
"Any time you get a college degree and you're an athlete, it shows that you're responsible, that you have a lot of character and that you're willing to work really hard at a lot of things," said Lemons. "I think as an employer the things I'd be looking for are integrity, work ethic, responsibility, and Logan has all those attributes. On top of being a great character kid, Ross is a tremendous athlete, so whatever he chooses to go in to, he's going to be amazing because of who he is."
Part of what makes the move from high school to college so challenging for any thrower is that the weight of the shot put increases from 12 to 16 pounds. Just like every incoming freshman, Ross was challenged by the change initially, but not only was he able to adapt to it in year one, now, at the end of year three, he's thriving with it.
"For an 18-year-old kid throwing a 16-pound shot is pretty difficult when you're used to 12-pounds. Then you're throwing in the hammer-throw and the weight-throw and the discus and all the weight goes up," Lemons said. "It's challenging, but Logan was a pretty strong kid coming out of high school, so he handled it fairly well. He's a different kid now. He's matured so much over the last three years. He's not a boy anymore. He's a grown man. He's very good and he's probably a top-40 thrower in the country."
Lemons has actually scouted this area rather regularly and the proof is on his roster. As for the boys team, other current HLGU track team members from the area include North Callaway's Nick Douglas. The girls squad features Centralia's Kailin Ross.
"When the competition goes up, every meet is like the state meet. It's pretty tough, but Logan has handled it very well," said Lemons. "I forsee him breaking all the school records next year. On top of being a great athlete, Ross is a pretty darn good student, also. He does well in the classroom, so he's handled everything very well. He's a responsible kid, so he really doesn't have much of a problem balancing work, school and athletics. He's done a really good job of that."