Grace Spoonhour

By Kyle Daubs

As a junior, Spoonhour broke the 20-minute mark eight times after accomplishing that feat just once in her first two seasons at Charleston High School. As Spoonhour prepares for her last cross country season, she hasn’t let COVID-19 stop her in her pursuit of finishing on top.

“So far, it’s been going good,” said Spoonhour. “We’ve been running throughout the summer since the first phase started in June. Personally, I just want to try and stay healthy, keep training, and be mentally prepared for anything that comes up due to COVID-19.”

Spoonhour has been running since June, but now she is able to train with her teammates.

“Running by yourself is not ideal, so it’s been a lot more fun training (with teammates),” Spoonhour said. “We have been training pretty hard, but we are excited for the season.”

Last year, Spoonhour qualified for the state meet and finished All-Apollo with a sixth-place finish. Four other runners besides Spoonhour return from that group, including Mattoon’s Kylie Haacke, who took second at conference.

“We’ve always been good friends and not people who are out for each other’s throats,” said Spoonhour. “We always congratulate each other after races. It’s healthy competition. We always want the best for each other.”

Teammate Megan Garrett qualified for the state cross country meet as a freshman. If she can return to top form, the duo would lead a squad that features six of the top seven runners in the conference.

“I think we have all improved since we all started,” said Spoonhour. “With most of us coming back, I’m not sure how good we are going to be, but I know we have the potential to be good. Not having track season hurts because you seen how you improve as a racer and from winter running. However, I definitely believe we are capable of making state as a team.”

Charleston took eighth in sectionals with 199 points compared to fifth-place state qualifier Mascoutah’s 159 points. Still, it is not clear whether IHSA will host a state meet this year.

“Making it to state is one of my goals and staying healthy, but I’d love to see our team make it back to state for the first time in seven years,” said Spoonhour.

Some have speculated how cross country meets will run given how clustered the start line is and narrow trails, but Spoonhour said she has been mentally preparing for anything at this point.

“For volleyball, I know they have had to wear a mask, but I’m not sure how that would work with running,” said Spoonhour. “The start line might have to spread out more. Sitting on busses will probably be something everyone will need to adjust with. It’s not a huge deal. I don’t’ care that we have to have our temperature taken. If these things are necessary for us to keep practicing, then I don’t mind it.”

As for the future, Spoonhour has her sights on running after high school.

“I’m hoping I can have one last good cross country season,” said Spoonhour. “I want to run in college. Running is fun. I’m just excited to run at EIU and see how much I can improve.”

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