Rock Hill’s Phillips makes the right choice with Terriers’ track

Published 11:59 pm Friday, December 22, 2023

Rock Hill Redmen cross country and track standout Isaac Phillips signed a letter-of-intent to run for the Hiram College Terriers. Attending Phillips’ signing ceremony were: seated left to right, mother Melissa Phillips, Isaac, father Brian Phillips and brother Andrew Phillips; standing is brother Noah Phillips. (Tm Gearhart Sports Photos/For The Ironton Tribune)

By Jim Walker

PEDRO — Isaac Phillips was given a choice from column A and column B. And since he preferred column A the best, he chose column B.

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Actually, the Rock Hill Redmen senior track and cross country standout picked the second choice because it would help make him better in his first choice. And his decision will benefit two programs at Hiram College after signing a letter-of-intent on Wednesday to run for the Terriers.

Phillips was given an option to choose one sport or or two and he had decided to do both track and cross country at Hiram.

Isaac Phillips

“Coach (Dan Graber) told me it was up to me, but I said if I’m going there for distance I might as well do the whole mile.”

Track is his favorite sport and the 800 and 1600 are his best events. However, he does like cross country but for different reasons.

“I like it a lot more to stay in shape and get ready for track,” said Phillips. “There’s a lot of miles and distance there  that helps my body.”

Although freshmen often have to start at the bottom and work their way up, Phillips said he has an opportunity to contribute to both programs immediately.

“In the 800 and mile, I’m their number two guy right now with my PRs (personal record). In cross country, I’m their four or five, so I’ll definitely be up there in track. They have one kid who should push me a lot, so I’ll get better.”

Rock Hill track and cross country coach Mark McFann expects Phillips to be successful at the next level.

“He’s a hard worker. He’ll do anything you’ll ask him to do. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll do. He’s always worked hard for me. I think he’ll do well at the next level,” said McFann.

“He’ll improve a lot in college. It’s that next step and he’ll be able to focus on it and he’ll improve quite a bit. He’s got a lot left in him to improve.”

Being at the college level will allow Phillips to focus his attention primarily on track workouts.

“Hopefully, going into my freshman year I can drop two, three, four seconds off my 800 and my mile. I am going to have

Phillips plays soccer and is on the bowling team, but his main focus has always been track and cross country, especially track.

“I always liked something about that competition.There’s four, five, six, seven guys lined up and anybody can win it. You can have a good day, you can have a bad day. It’s an adrenaline rush and I love it,” he said.

Phillips had several colleges on his recruiting list and had narrowed it down to Rio Grande, Wittenberg and Bluffton as well as Hiram.

“I wanted to get far away from home, so that knocked Rio out. The first time I went (to Hiram) it felt like home. Everyone talked to me. Everyone was really nice and welcoming,” Phillips said.

Phillips plans to major in English.

“I’ve always loved English. I may be a teacher,” said Phillips, who also wants to coach. “I’m going to minor in sports management and  hopefully one day I can coach high school track.”