If Brady Webb qualifies for his third IHSA State Track & Field Meet later this school year, he could be staying in his future dorm room.
The Polo senior signed a National Letter of Intent on Tuesday to compete in track & field at Eastern Illinois University.
A two-time state qualifier, Webb took three college visits this past summer – to EIU, to Division III powerhouse North Central College in Naperville, and to St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
He and his family weighed the three options all summer, but Webb liked the sense of community, academics and athletics at Eastern. He also saw a resemblance between
current Forreston-Polo coach Bob Wagner and first-year EIU coach Brenton Emanuel.
“When it came down to it, Eastern is like a second home,” Webb said. “It’s always been great down there. Coach Emanuel seemed like one of those coaches that wasn’t always coaching, but more of a friend. Plus, there’s no dramatic change in scenery.”
Illinois Track and Field Hall of Famer Tom Akers retired as the head coach at Eastern on June 1, after 24 years and 32 Ohio Valley Conference titles with the Panthers. Emanuel was a 4-year member of the EIU track team from 2005-08, and was an assistant for Akers from 2009-14.
After 4 years at Illinois State as an assistant, Emanuel seized the opportunity to become a head coach for the first time at his alma mater.
Webb was first contacted by Emanuel when his future coach was still an assistant at Illinois State.
He took his official visit to Charleston about a month ago over Columbus Day weekend.
After the visit, Webb verbally committed to the Panthers.
“We wanted to get it done officially so everything would be in line for next fall,” he said. “On both ends, there’s been no miscommunication. That’s always really nice for things to go as smooth as possible. That’s why we were able to get it done so quickly.”
Webb has been one of several reasons why Forreston-Polo has cracked the top 10 in the Class 1A team standings the last 2 years.
The Cardinals took seventh as a team last year, with Webb placing sixth in the long jump (21-9 1/4) and helping F-P’s 1,600 relay to a ninth-place finish. He finished fifth at state in 2017 with a leap of 21-10 3/4 in the long jump, contributing to the Cardinals’ third-place trophy.
Webb is also a two-time Oregon Sectional champion in the long jump. His personal best in the event is 22-7, which came last year at the Geneseo John McCormick ABC Invitational.
Webb is now 100 percent healthy after suffering a dislocated right shoulder during Week 4 of the football season. He will be a crucial component to Polo’s basketball team, as well as F-P’s hopes of another top finish come track & field season.
Webb’s three-sport success while juggling academics caught Emanuel’s attention. He will trim down to one sport in college, but could see opportunities as both a long jumper and sprinter for the Panthers.
“I’ll be jumping for sure, but there’s the possibility to run as well,” Webb said. “On specialty days, I’ll be jumping. When we do some mixed events, I could be doing some sprinting. [Emanuel said] I’m kind of a hybrid that can do both, and I’m just excited to see how it all goes.”
FYI: 3-sport (football, basketball, track & field) athlete at Polo. … Helped Polo football team to playoffs in 2 of the last 3 years. ... Also a 3-year varsity player in basketball, & helped lead Marcos to 20-win seasons each of the last 2 years. ... Will run track & field at Eastern Illinois, competing mainly in long jump.