Charleston’s Grace Spoonhour said not wearing spikes for a high school cross country race was a bit weird.
Mattoon’s Kylie Haacke said she loved running on a flat course through the streets of Mattoon.
And organizers of Wednesday evening’s historic race appeared ecstatic about the return of an event that three-time Olympian Craig Virgin once called the best he’d ever run in high school.
The race, started in 1965, was also billed in the 1970s as “The Nation’s Greatest Interscholastic Running Spectacle.”
The race retained its pageantry Wednesday. A middle-school pop-rock band performed at the park near the starting line at the Mattoon Train Depot, a larger music ensemble performed at the southwest edge of Peterson Park during the race, residents lined Broadway and Richmond avenues and people packed the finish line near the park’s pavilion to watch about 300 runners parade through town for the first time in nearly 25 years – since the race had moved out to Lake Land College in the mid-1990s.
Hyperbole aside, Wednesday’s race featured several terrific performances.
Richland County’s Tatum David, for instance, took a lead of more than several hundred yards by the time she was a half-mile down Broadway Avenue to start the race. David, the most dominant runner in the region, outpaced the field by more than 2 minutes –– and even passed some of the boys runners whose race had started five minutes earlier. David clocked in at 16 minutes, 52.79 seconds, a 5:37 pace per mile.
And Haacke held off Marshall’s Brooklyn Bender, beating her by .76 seconds in 19:13.12, to take third overall. Quincy Collings finished 5 seconds later to take fifth and help the Green Wave earn the fifth slot with 165 points.
Spoonhour, meanwhile, ran another personal-best time by completing the three-mile course in 19:43.9. She and teammate Megan Garrett ran side by side for the first mile before Spoonhour slowly moved ahead. Garrett finished in 20:22.7 to take 17th overall the helped the Trojans grab third with 122 points, 50 points behind runner-up Mt. Zion.
Marshall dominated the girls division, putting four runners on the podium where Virgin draped medals around the top athletes’ necks. Isabel Arthur took second in 18:53.4, followed by Bender in fourth, Emma Gard (19:32.4) in sixth and Cailin Morris (19:35.8) in seventh for 34 total points.
Richland County’s Gavin Kirby won the boys race, holding off Robinson’s Negus Bogard down the stretch to clock in at 15:21.6 to win by 2 seconds for a 5:07 mile pace. Mattoon’s Brock Davee (16:36.2) took seventh and Josh Ramage (17:00.1) 12th to help the Green Wave secure second place with 120 points, 47 points behind champion Mt. Zion and 21 points ahead of Robinson. Brandon Creel (38th), Mackinley Beadles (40th) and Triston Grove (41st) finished in a pack to complete MHS’s scoring.
Josh Hoh (22, 17:21) was Charleston’s top boys finisher, followed by teammate Noah Oakley (33, 17:50.7). The Trojans finished 11th overall.
GIRLS TEAM SCORES
- Marshall 34
- Mt Zion 72
- Charleston 122
- Olney 128
- Mattoon 165
- Casey-Westfield 169
- Robinson 174
- Newton 193
- Teutopolis 217
- St Anthony 242
CHARLESTON: Grace Spoonhour (8, 19:43.9), Megan Garrett (17, 20:22.7), Ila Richter (28, 21:03.8), Lilly Long (34, 21:38.6), Casey Fisher (35, 21:45.1), Sophie Kattenbraker (46, 22:32), Lydia Madlem (50, 22:51.3)
MATTOON: Kylie Haacke (3, 19:13.1), Quincy Collings (5, 19:18.5), Mickenze Schofield (22, 20:37.8), Allie Wells (67, 24:28.8), Chaselyn Himes (68, 24:51.6), Katelyn McElwee (71, 26:10.2), Kaylin Richey (75, 26:51.8).
BOYS TEAM SCORES
- Olney 73
- Mattoon 120
- Robinson 141
- Taylorville 146
- Marshall 181
- St. Anthony 207
- Effingham 236
- Teutopolis 237
- Cumberland 263
- Newton 282
- Charleston 286
MATTOON: Brock Davee (7, 16:36.2), Josh Ramage (12, 17:00.1), Sam Ferrar (23, 17:22), Brandon Creel (38, 18:02, Mackinley Beadles (40, 18:05.6), Triston Grove (41, 18:10.2), Sean South (63, 18:42.8).
CHARLESTON: Josh Hoh (22, 17:21.5), Noah Oakley (33, 17:50.7), Luca Carcasi (49, 18:20), Mason Reeley (88, 20:09.7), Logan Mellott (94, 20:21.1), Jared Bingaman (95, 20:25.4), Adam Agronomoff (99, 20:47.7).
For complete results, go to ChampionChip.