Patton Segraves was born on August 15th, 1980, I moved to Harrisburg one year later.
Patton was one year old when I first met him.
It seems like yesterday, but it was 33 years ago.
I drove my 1974 Buick LaSabre to Harrisburg on August 1st 1981. The spacious back seat and trunk easily carried all my possessions: some clothes, a stereo, and 500 albums. I later bought a second-hand couch, chair, and TV. The athletic director, Gene Haile, loaned me a foldaway bed. I moved into a trailer owned by the head track coach, Chuck Ingram. The trailer had blue shag carpeting. My rent was $160. The trailer at the corner of Sloan and Club Street was my home for two years, until I got married to Jill Brinkley on September 3rd, 1983.
I had turned down a job at Palatine Fremd that would have paid a base salary of $25,000. Harrisburg’s base salary was $11,800. I chose Harrisburg because I could coach three sports: football, basketball, and track. Despite coaching three sports, my bi-monthly paycheck was only $499. There wasn’t much to do in Harrisburg. Sometimes I played poker at the Elks Lodge. On weekends I’d head two miles north to “The Gateway” in Muddy. (Yes, there really is a Muddy, IL)
I was one of six football coaches at Harrisburg High School (two coaches at each level). The assistant varsity coach was a guy named Greg Segraves. Greg had an outgoing personality and soon became a good friend of mine. My first official day of my coaching career was the day we issued football equipment before the 1981 season, Saturday August 15th, 1981. I remember Greg telling me that it was Patton’s first birthday. I had no idea that Patton and I would become forever linked.
Fast forward to 1995.
I first realized that Patton Segraves was going to be a pretty good athlete when he was in the 8th grade (1994-95). In a town like Harrisburg, the middle school teams were covered by our hometown newspaper, the Harrisburg Daily Register. It seemed like everyone read the paper. Despite being undersized, Patton was one of the best players on both the baseball and basketball teams. He also ran the 800 meters at the “state meet” held in Marion. Patton ran 2:04.6. Wow.
Patton’s 8th grade year was my 14th year of coaching. I was 36 years old, married with four kids, and trying to pay bills. During those 14 years, our coaches would meet after every football game at the home of Greg and Paula Segraves.
Despite Patton’s talent as a runner, the chance of anyone in Harrisburg (or anywhere for that matter) choosing track over baseball was slim. Harrisburg was a baseball town. Our baseball coach was arguably best baseball coach in the state of Illinois. Jay Thompson’s team won the IHSA AA Baseball State Championship in 1989. In 1989, there were only two classes. Harrisburg was the best team in the entire state and was ranked nationally by USA Today. The only kids that ran track in Harrisburg were the ones that couldn’t hit a baseball.
However, I’m not someone who gives up easily. At the end of Patton’s 8th grade year, I invited Patton and another fast baseball player, Shane Gidcumb, to make the trip to the state meet with our team. Patton and Shane experienced the charter bus, the team meals, two nights in EIU dorms, and team meetings. Patton and Shane also got to ride home with the 1995 IHSA Class A State Champions. State Championships are powerful things. So is camaraderie. Patton recalls, “The guys treated us like we were members of the team”.
Our 1995 team was led by 7-2 high jumper Damon Lampley who also placed 3rd in the 100 meters. Damon was the starting center fielder for Jay Thompson’s baseball team in 1995 that won 28 games and placed 4th in Class A. Not many coaches worked as well together as Jay and I did. We believed in putting the kid first. Not many schools of 600 students can be state champs in track one weekend and the next week play in the IHSA baseball semi-finals.
Damon Lampley also started on a basketball team that went 27-5 and made it all the way to Champaign before losing in the Elite Eight. Damon was also our #1 golfer in the fall. Being a four-sport athlete, Damon Lampley proved to everyone that the best athletes could do it all.
Did playing four sports hurt Damon Lampley’s college opportunities? Ha. He took advantage of a FULL track & field scholarship at Iowa State for five years. College coaches love multi-sport athletes.
Patton Segraves – Freshmen, 1995-96
Patton Segraves played FIVE sports as a freshmen … three at the varsity level.
Patton competed for the varsity cross country team. He placed 15th at the IHSA Class A Sectional as a freshman and led Harrisburg to it’s first-ever trip to the IHSA Cross Country Finals.
During the same fall, Patton quarterbacked the freshmen football team on Thursday nights and played safety for the sophomore football team on Monday nights. SMH.
Patton played JV basketball as a freshman but also saw enough time on the varsity to earn a letter. He made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win a varsity game against Benton.
In baseball, Patton started at 2nd base for the JV team.
But it was in track where he truly made his mark.
After winning the state championship in 1995, I wanted to take advantage of the increased buzz surrounding our program. Prior to 1996, we attended only one indoor meet every year, the SIU Indoor Invite. Patton’s freshmen year we attended five indoor meets. We went to the Midwest Invite at Indiana University, the SIU-Carbondale meet, the Sterling Invitational, EIU-Charleston, and Top Times Meet at the University of Illinois. Five consecutive weekends. Four overnight stays.
At our first outdoor meet of 1996 (Murphysboro Invite), Patton false-started in the 4×4. I have joked ever since that Patton was banished from the lead-off spot from that moment on. He would forever run anchor because I couldn’t trust him as our starter.
As a freshmen, Patton Segraves won medals in both the 4×8 and the 4×4 at the 1996 IHSA State Meet. His 4×8 team of two freshman and two sophomores shocked the world running 8:02.44 Patton ran 1:58.8. Sophomores Antwan Garnett and Clint Simpson ran 1:58.8 and 2:01.5. Freshman Brian Weiss ran 2:03.2. To my knowledge, no freshmen/sophomore team has ever run faster.
The 4×4 was also very exciting. Our team of Robert Neal, Boone Cohlmeyer, and Aaron Moore (three seniors) gave Patton the lead in the 4×4 finals. Patton held that lead until the final 100 meters, eventually placing 3rd. Patton anchored that 4×4 running a time of 51.0. Not bad for a freshman. People from all over the state of Illinois became aware of the freshman phenom from Harrisburg.
Patton Segraves – Sophomore, 1996-97
Patton quarterbacked the sophomore team and did not run cross country. Sophomore football games were held on Monday nights, so Saturday morning practices were very important … especially for the quarterback. In addition, to quarterbacking the sophomore team, Patton started at wide receiver for the varsity on Friday nights. Just like his freshman year, Patton was playing two football games per week.
Patton had a big season in basketball his sophomore year. As the starting point guard Patton’s leadership skills paid big dividends as Harrisburg’s varsity went 21-10 and made it to the Carbondale Super Sectional. Patton also qualified for the “3-Point Showdown” in Peoria where he made 9 of 15 3-point shots. He also made the all-tournament team at the Carmi Tournament.
Patton gave up baseball after his freshman year. It was the right thing to do at the time but now Patton admits, “I wish I would have done both.” Harrisburg’s baseball team averaged 27 wins per year from 1996-1999.
After the 8:02 fresh-soph 4×8 the previous year, we were thinking big in 1997. Instead, we had some health issues. Patton Segraves got mono in April and missed one meet. (Yes, he only missed ONE meet !!!) Antwan Garnett fainted in his dorm at the state meet on Thursday night. Antwan was a terrific runner but was too sick to run in the prelims. He ran a gutsy 2:07 and 52.6 in the finals. Patton managed to collect three more medals (4×8, 4×2, and 4×4).
Sometimes you just have to put bad things behind you and move on. 1997 was one of those years.
Patton Segraves – Junior, 1997-98
Patton returned to cross country his junior year. With Friday night football games, Saturdays were again open to run.
Here is a story that’s hard to imagine. Our cross country team was scheduled to run at Trenton Wesclin (IHSA Sectional) on a Saturday morning. On that same afternoon, our football team was scheduled to play Piasa Southwestern in the IHSA football playoffs. Without Patton Segraves, our boys cross country team would not qualify for state. Patton ran and our boys qualified as a team.
Here’s the problem … in order to make it back for the football game, Patton would have to travel 110 miles in 90 minutes. Harrisburg Sheriff George Henley led the way with sirens blaring. Speeds were reportedly at 90 mph. Patton changed from his singlet to shoulder pads and jersey. Like Superman from a phone booth, Patton jumped out of the car an ran onto the field with 10 minutes to spare. No problem. Just another day for Patton Segraves. Harrisburg won 35-7.
Harrisburg’s football team was coached by Al Way, a member of the IHSFCA Hall of Fame, who had a career record of 175-66 with 17 playoff appearances and one state championship. Al Way’s state championship came in 2000. Later that spring we won the track state championship. #speedkills
The next week Patton ran at the IHSA Cross Country State Finals at Detweiller Park in Peoria. That night Patton joined Harrisburg’s football team in Quincy and where they beat Quincy Notre Dame 43-6.
Harrisburg’s football team went 12-2, losing to Kaneland in the IHSA 3A Championship. Patton played receiver and caught a touchdown pass in the title game, Harrisburg’s only touchdown of the game. We were missing our star running back, Josh Hodge.
The 1997-98 Harrisburg basketball team had a banner season, going 25-6. The season ended, again, with a trip to the Super Sectional.
Once again, Patton proved to be one of the best long range shooters in the state, advancing the the final four in the “3-Point Shootout” and placing second. On the same day that he competed in the “3-Point Shootout”, he anchored the 4×4 at the Charleston Indoor Invitational at EIU. Just another day.
Track & Field is hopefully more than just practices and meets.
One of my favorite stories comes from the Centralia “Orphan Relays” in 1998. We had just beaten East St. Louis to win the 4×4. We all got on the bus and headed home. At the 2nd stop sign on the way out of town, we heard a loud banging on the bus door. Deke Rivers and Patton Segraves had chased the bus down. They were not happy campers. I guess the 4×4 took more out of them than I thought.
I believe my 1998 track team was one of the best I ever coached. Our 6th best 800 runner, Steven Owen, ran 2:00.1. However, it’s hard to win championships with distance guys in 95 degree heat. We bombed and placed 3rd in the state. We may have been the saddest team to ever win a trophy in Charleston.
Patton had a good state meet winning a 2nd place medal in the 4×8, placing 7th in the 400 in lane 9 (50.12), and anchoring the 4×4 to a 2nd place medal (3:20.77).
Our 4×4 and 4×8 losses seemed tragic because earlier we had run 3:19 and 7:53. Too much reliance on middle distance runners and too much heat were the culprits in 1998. I made up my mind that we would reinvent ourselves as a 4×1-based program. See “The Epiphany“. We won gold in the 4×1 in four of the next six years placing 1st, 1st, 1st, 4th, 1st, & 4th. As a team we scored 295 points from 1999-2004 (49.2 avg) and finished 1st, 5th, 1st, 2nd, 2nd , & 3rd. #speedkills
Patton was named “IHSA Illinois Sports Report Player of the Year” in 1998. He beat out Darius Miles of East St. Louis for the award. Miles was the 3rd overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft without ever going to college and was the best high school basketball player I’ve ever seen … but no one did “multi-sport” like Patton Segraves.
Patton Segraves – Senior, 1998-99
As a senior, Patton had the year seniors are supposed to have.
I am shocked at the lack of focus by so many Plainfield North seniors. I guess it’s not really their fault. As a school, we allow our seniors to take five classes instead of six. My son, Quinn, was allowed to leave school during his senior year at 12:08 every day. Many of our seniors lack focus in their final semester. Colleges have already made admission decisions based on seven semesters of high school achievement. We allow graduation to occur many days before the school year has concluded (PN graduation May 17, last day of school May 30th) Seniors don’t take semester exams. Seniors get days off when the rest of the school is doing state testing. Senior skip day doesn’t help the situation. Prom is a distraction. How can we expect seniors to have great track seasons when we send them the message that their eighth semester is not that important?
Excuse my rant. Let’s keep this thing positive.
Anyway, Patton Segraves did not suffer from “senioritis“. He never considered taking his senior year lightly. Patton was destined to be a champion.
Patton again ran cross country, but this time he could not attend the Sectional.
Patton quarterbacked his team to a 8-4 record and went three rounds into the playoffs before getting beat by a very good Nashville team who had won the state track meet the previous year. (Symbiosis of football and track) Anyway, Patton ended his football career with a bang, throwing for 380 yards in the Nashville loss. The 380 yards was a new IHSA 3A play-off record that stood for several years. (IHSA football play-offs had only six classes in the 90’s)
As a third-year basketball starter, Patton lead his team to a solid 19-9 record. He made the all-tournament team at Carmi and Eldorado. As a 3-year starter, Patton’s basketball teams won 81% of their games, a record of 65-15.
In the spring, it all came together.
We traveled 345 miles to Glenbard West on May 1st 1999. We traveled to compete against the best in the state. Patton placed 3rd in the 800. The winner was Nick Setta from Lockport with a time of 1:53.9. Setta went on to win the 800 at the AA state meet. We also placed 3rd in the 4×4. Wheaton South won with a time of 3:22.6. Wheaton South, behind Jon Schweighardt, later won the state 4×4 on their way to the AA state title. Not many meets featured both Class A and Class AA team state champions. Both Harrisburg and Wheaton South won it all in 1999.
Since this entire blog is devoted to multi-sport athletes … let’s acknowledge the careers of Nick Setta and Jon Schweighardt.
Nick Setta, Lockport
- Member of two state championship cross country teams (Lockport 1997 & 1998)
- All-State IHSA CC three times running 14:46, 14:55, and 14:52
- Six IHSA Track & Field medals, State Champ 800 in 1999 (1:52.24)
- High Jumped 6-10
- Won 12 varsity letters at Lockport: football 4, cross country 4, track 4
- Made 46 of 66 FG for Notre Dame (football)
- Once hit the cross bar on a 72-yard FG attempt in a IHSA football playoff game against Wheaton South (1997)
- Had two 97-yard punts in CFL
- Now in speed training business … settaperformance.com
Jon Schweighardt.Wheaton South
- 1999 Chicago Tribune High School Male Athlete of the Year
- Schweighardt led Wheaton South to both Football AND Track State Championships his senior year (symbiosis of football & track)
- Jr & Sr football seasons at Wheaton South caught 174 passes for 3027 yards and 41 touchdowns !!! Wow !!!
- Won 3 events at 1999 IHSA State Meet: 110H 14.32, 300H 36.77 (state record), 4×4 (anchor) 3:16.85
- At Northwestern caught 147 passes for 1670 yards and 8 touchdowns
- Now the assistant football coach and head track coach at Glenbard West
It’s hard to imagine Patton Segraves, Nick Setta, and Jon Schweighardt competing on the same day at the Jim Arnold Invitational at Glenbard West on May 1, 1999. 1999 Tribune Article. It’s a tribute to our proud sport that Nick Setta, Jon Schweighardt, and Patton Segraves are presently working in the “speed business”. #speedkills
Back to the ’99 season …
The next weekend (May 8, 1999) Patton Segraves won four events at the very competitive 14-team Harrisburg Invitational. Segraves ran a strange mix of races. He ran #2 on the victorious 4×1. He also did the tough-guy double of the 800 and 400 (only separated by one race). Segraves ran 1:56.4 and 50.6 to win both on a hot day. He had no complaints about anchoring the 4×4, running 49.6 to win the race. Born to compete.
At the conference meet Patton won his three races as we outscored 2nd place Massac County by 119 points. Segraves ran 50.0 to win the open 400 and went 49.1 to anchor the 4×4.
After taking care of business at the Sectional, we advanced through the prelims, and ran great in the finals. We scored 59 points by placing 10 times. Patton was the Class A State Champion in the 800 meters. He ran 1:56.19 and never trailed. Those who were there also remember his remarkable #2 leg in the 4×1 when he seemed to pass the entire field (remember, as of 1999 we had officially morphed into a 4×1 school). Sadly, Patton failed to anchor the 4×4 to a gold medal. The fact that Patton Segraves anchored Harrisburg’s 4×4 to a 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, and 2nd in his four years has probably never been done before. He had no idea that his championship 4×4 would come 13 years later as the head coach of Belleville West. See Patton’s long-awaited 4×4 championship … go to 6:37:30 mark at 2012 IHSA State Meet. It’s ironic that my Plainfield North 4×4 team (four seniors) also had a chance to win that race. Both Patton and I were very proud of our teams that day.
Patton was the ultimate “team” guy. I hear many coaches complain that their team lacks leadership. Leaders are born, not made. You take what you get. Patton Segraves was a leader by example. He inspired his teammates with everything he did. He was always real, never phony. Patton was never a big talker, but when he spoke, others listened.
Great leaders make those around them better. Patton had some amazing teammates from 1996-99. Patton Segraves influenced all of these guys in a positive way.
- John Perkins … 300H 38.06, 110H 14.62, 100m 10.7
- Robert Neal … 300H 38.5, Discus 154’0, 400 49.9
- Brian Weiss … 800m 1:56.7, 4×4 51.0
- Blake Boma … 2005 D-3 National Champ 400H 51.78
- Clint Simpson … 400m 50.2, 4×4 48.9, 800m 1:59.7
- Antwan Garnett … 800m 1:56.8, 4×4 50.0
- Brad Brachear … 100m 10.70, 200m 21.5
- Braden Jones … LJ 23’3, 400m 48.8
- Shane Gidcumb … 100m 11.2
- Brad Davidson … LJ 21’2
- Ronnie Seets … Discus 165’5
- Brandon McIntosh … Discus 166’10
- Deke Rivers … 4×4 49.5
- Duston Hearn … 800m 1:58.3, 4×4 50.2
- Jason DeNeal … Shot 52’5
- Joey Speaks … Shot 50’0
- Chris Herren … 2007 OVC Champ Steeple Chase 9:23.50
- Boone Cohlmeyer … LJ 21-9, 400m 51.3
- Jesse Sais … 100m 10.9, 200m 22.6
- Gabe Cullers … PV 12’6
- Adam Hathaway … PV 14’3
Most people think that coaches inspire their athletes. In the best case scenarios, athletes inspire their coach. Patton Segraves, Antwan Garnett, Clint Simpson, and Brian Weiss inspired me and continue to do so.
Recap of an amazing high school career:
- In the same year, competed at IHSA State Cross Country Championships, IHSA Track & Field Championships, IHSA Football State Championship Game, and IHSA Basketball Super Sectional
- Won 11 IHSA state track medals
- Won state medals in all four relays (4×1, 4×2, 4×4, 4×8) … has anyone ever done this?
- Anchored 4×4 to four top-3 finishes at IHSA State Meet … has anyone ever done this?
- Played FIVE sports as a freshmen
- Winner of 14 Varsity Letters, track-4, basketball-4, football-3, cross country-3
- Caught a touchdown pass in 1997 3A state championship game
- As a QB, threw for state playoff record 380 yards in a 3rd-round 3A playoff game
- Competed in a IHSA Cross Country Sectional and an IHSA Football Playoff game on the same day
- Competed at IHSA Cross Country State Championship and an IHSA Football Playoff game on the same day
- Advanced to Final Four of the “3-POINT SHOWDOWN” and anchored a 4×4 at EIU Indoor on the same day
Patton Segraves – University of Kentucky 2000 – 2004
I remember emailing Kentucky Coach Don Weber back in the early days of email. I wrote explaining that Patton Segraves was a four-sport athlete with good but not elite times. Weber offered Patton a scholarship and Patton attended the University of Kentucky.
- Split 1:50.9 (800) in DMR at Sea-Ray Relays 2001
- 1:52.2 at SEC Indoor 2001 (800)
- Ran on 4×8 team that went 7:24 to place 3rd at Texas Relays 2001
- Split 48.7 (400) in DMR at Penn Relays
- Competed in many prestigious meets – Mt. Sac Relays, Stanford Invite, Tyson Indoor Invite at Arkansas
- Ran at Miami Invite 2000, 2001, 2003 (week-long trips, stayed on South Beach)
- Ran at Long Beach State (CA) in 2002 … (week-long trip)
- Ran on every SEC campus with the exception of Ole Miss and Vanderbilt
Patton Segraves – Belleville West 2005 – Present
From Kentucky, Patton got a job teaching special education at Belleville West High School. He also was named assistant cross country coach and assistant track coach. Patton was named head track coach for the 2006 season.
- 8 years as head coach Belleville West – 17 all-state relay teams (medal-winners) … only 2 prior in Belleville history (1917 to present)
- 11 individual all-staters (medal-winners) in 8 years … interesting that 10 of those 11 medals were won by hurdlers and/or triple jumpers
- Since 2009, with 20 chances to win relay medals, Belleville West has done so 16 times. All but four relays had a Belleville West team at the awards podium.
- Won gold medal in four relays … 2009 4×1 … 2009 4×2 … 2011 4×1 … 2012 4×4 #speedkills
- Last year Belleville West won medals in ALL FOUR RELAYS
- Belleville West has been a top-10 team five years in a row … 3rd, 4th, 3rd, 6th, and 6th
- Belleville West has scored 165 points in Patton’s 8 years at the state finals … only 2 of those points have come from 4×8, 800, 1600, & 3200 … #speedkills
- Two state trophies … 3rd Place – 2009 & 2011
- Only two teams have scored 25 or more team points in each year of 3A (2009-2013), Lake Park and Belleville West
- Highest scoring 3A teams (2009-2013) … #1 Lake Park, #2 York, #3 Belleville West, #4 Oak Park, #5 Neuqua Valley, #6 Edwardsville
When he’s not teaching and coaching, Patton and his wife, Whitney, are busy with their three daughters (Sylvi, Jorja, and Tilly), their three dogs (Tucker, Olive, and Clair), and their two cats (May & Henry).
Patton is just a normal guy … almost generic-looking. No one ever made the claim that he possessed freaky talent. Patton would make no one’s “All Airport Team”. He is confident without being cocky. He has a calm demeanor but he has a fire in his gut.
I remember Danny Lampley (Damon’s father) telling me in 1995, “Just wait until your own kids are on the team.” I immediately replied, “It will be no different. They are all my kids.”
This has been the story of a multi-sport athlete … a story that needed to be told. After reading this, why would anyone choose to play just one sport? It makes me sad to think that our best athletes compete for a few months and then “train” for the rest of the year. Patton Segraves, Nick Setta, and Jon Schweighardt competed, and they didn’t limit themselves to just one season.
Too many coaches become self-centered and fail to see athletics as a classroom. They drink the AAU/travel-team/personal trainer Kool-Aid and expect their athletes to do the same.
What is the mission of high school athletics? The next level? Should high school sports serve as scholarship factories? Most schools have no more than 5 to 10 athletes who receive full NCAA scholarships in a given year. Should the entire athletic program exist to promote the false hope of “getting a full ride”? Read this excellent article from the New York Times … “The Scholarship Divide”.
Patton Segraves feels lucky that he has 95% of the fast kids at Belleville West running track. However, everyone has their challenges. Belleville West has six small feeder schools. Middle school meets seem more like a field trip or recreational activity. Patton typically finds his fast guys on the freshmen football team and in PE classes. However the fastest guys don’t automatically choose track. Recruiting is an every day activity. Patton Segraves talked to 6’2 Ray Scott every day as a freshmen. Ray Scott ended his career with 6 state medals including a 4×1 and 4×4 state championship.
There are hundreds of stories like those of Patton Segraves, Nick Setta, and Jon Schweighardt.
I urge coaches reading this blog to take the time to add to the discussion by commenting below. Tell your stories.
Tony Holler, Track Coach Plainfield North H.S.
website – pntrack.com
twitter – @pntrack
email – email@example.com
text – 630-849-8294
Patton’s mother, Paula, is a retired teacher. Paula emailed me thanking me for telling Patton’s story. She also reminded me … “Patton did all of this while maintaining an A average in high school and college. As a teacher I always want students to know that the grades come first and that it can be done.”
Seems like I forgot the most important thing !!!
Makes me proud to be a teacher.