Charleston High runners take off on a five-mile run Monday morning from Carl Sandburg Elementary.

By Kyle Daubs

After seeing a familiar name at the top, new faces at Charleston High School are looking to take charge.

Over the last several years, last names like Oakley, Ames, and Hoh have been seen at the top of the race standings. That changes as the boys gear up for the 2020 season. 

Both of the Trojans top two runners from last year, including All-Apollo selection Josh Hoh, and Noah Oakley have graduated. However, second-year coach Greg Rogers believes that there are some new leaders ready to take the next step.

That includes junior Luca Carcasi.

“Luca has been a workhorse the whole summer, averaging around 40 miles per week,” said Rogers. “His long runs are up to 10-12 miles and he’s excelling at our harder workouts.  He is incredibly excited to have a standout season and become one of the best runners in the conference.”

After running a career best of 17 minutes, 34 seconds at last year’s Decatur MacArthur Sectional, Rogers said that Carcasi has been stepping up as a leader for the team in workouts.

“An expectation is for our boys to move up in packs during races,” said Rogers. “Pack running is the key to team success in cross country. Luca will be in a bit of a different situation as he is our clear front runner, and he is doing a great job of taking charge of workouts. He has the fire to be a real strong leader. I think that will translate to more team success and I expect to see the same thing from Luca in a few races this year.”

Mason Reeley, also a junior, was the team’s No. 4 runner last season and also looks to take on a new role for the team.

“Luca Carcasi and Mason Reeley are the top returners,” said Rogers. “They have been a huge part of our summer running program and are poised to take leadership roles and help the newcomers along.”

As for the No. 3 runner this year, Rogers says freshman, Adam Rudibaugh, who ran for the middle school cross country team the past few years.

“Adam did a lot of growing this summer and is already running very strong in our group,” said Rogers. “He’s a really positive kid and is very excited to get rolling.”

Rounding out the top five will likely be senior Eugene Ohba, whose soccer season has been pushed back to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Boys soccer coach Josh Garrett has encouraged his players to run this fall.

“We’re really grateful for that,” Rogers said. “Eugene is a talented athlete and is mixing it up with our top group already in the first week of practice. We’re very excited to have him and hope to gain a few more soccer players.”

Mahomet-Seymour placed 11th in the state last year and returns four of their five runners. So an Apollo title might be ambitious. But Rogers says CHS might contend for a top spot in the conference.

“I expect Charleston to mix it up with Mattoon and Mt. Zion for the runner-up,” said Rogers. “On an individual level, it looks like just about every team in the conference is returning a solid frontrunner. Chris Cherry of Taylorville won the Apollo last year and is returning, along with Kyle Nofziger and Joseph Scheele of Mahomet-Seymour. Shortly behind them, Brock Davee from Mattoon is a strong runner, and I feel confident that Luca Carcasi of Charleston will be in that mix as well.”

The Apollo meet is likely going to be one of the few invites for Charleston this year due to the IHSA restrictions from the pandemic. However, Rogers said that the Trojans still plan to have the Charleston Invite in September, but teams are limited to 10.

Cross country is one of four sports permitted this fall. Over the summer, the boys team was still able to practice.

“My biggest worry about the shortened season is that we may not be in peak shape yet once October 24th rolls around,” said Rogers. “That’s why we’re literally hitting the ground running with our first week of practice. We’re trying to be smart at the same time and challenge everyone appropriately. Some of our boys have been running the whole summer and some have just started running this week, so we’re trying to progress appropriately and avoid injuries as much as possible.”

Rogers says his team’s primary goal is developing as a team, not titles.

“Here in the first week of official practice, they are already a close, supportive group, Rogers said. “That makes the biggest difference in a team’s success. I expect our boys to progress steadily throughout the season and learn from each race. The addition of a few boys from our soccer team has made a huge difference already in our numbers, so we hope to capitalize on their contributions.”

ROSTER

Seniors : Eugene Ohba, Juniors: Luca Carcasi, Nicholas Hawk, Ashton Fifield, Mason Reeley. Sophomore: Marshall Smith. Freshmen: Adam Rudibaugh, Grant Kattenbraker.

DateOpponentLocation
8/27Mattoon, NewtonEIU Panther Trail
9/5CHS InviteEIU Panther Trail
9/10Mt ZionFort Daniels Conservation Area (Decatur)
9/23MattoonMeadowview Golf Course
9/29TaylorvilleTaylorville
10/8Champaign Central, Mt. Zion, MattoonMeadowview Golf Course
10/13Apollo ConferenceEIU Panther Trail

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