By Kyle Daubs
The maturation process has taken its course.
A young Mattoon team in 2019 was the Apollo Conference runner-up and qualified for the Decatur MacArthur Sectional. Not a single runner graduated from last year’s team, which, of course, pleases third-year coach Troy Haacke.
“All the guys above have improved and have been working hard with another year of growth and running under their belt,” said Haacke. “They are all going to step up and be an impact for the team. We have also had some nice additions to the team in Trent Hettinger, Quincy Hamilton, Tyler Warner, and Colton Smith who look to play big roles this year.”
The top returning runners are Brock Davee, Sam Ferrar, Brandon Creel, Tristin Grove, Mac Beadles, and Chase Armstrong, who were all part of the top seven last year.
Davee’s first season couldn’t have gone much better. At the sectional, Davee finished 22nd overall and missed qualifying for the IHSA state meet by 25 seconds, finishing ninth behind Highland’s Nick Hanratty.
Davee cracked the 17-minute mark seven times last season, highlighted by a personal best of 16 minutes, 7.9 seconds at the St. Anthony Classic. He finished in the top 10 in 10 races, including the Apollo meet where he took fourth in 16:34.76 to earn all-conference honors.
“The number one runner is Chris Cherry, a senior from Taylorville, who was an All-State runner,” said MHS coach Troy Haacke. “I believe Brock Davee will be right up there this year along with Mahomet’s top two runners in Kyle Nofziger and Joseph Scheele.”
The top five runners from the Apollo Conference meet return this season. Nofzigger and Scheele, both from Mahomet-Seymour, finished 15 and 7 seconds, respectively, ahead of Davee.
Mattoon placed second with 59 points compared to Mahomet’s 33 points.
“We have improved a lot. I hope we are in the hunt,” said Haacke. “We were runner-up last year with everyone back. Mahomet has a majority of their runners back from their Apollo Championship team, so it should be a great battle.”
All-Apollo selection Josh Ramage, who took 10th in 17:22.47, is recovering from an injury. Ferrar just missed earning All-Apollo last year after finishing 11th, 1.2 seconds behind Ramage.
Creel, a sophomore, finished just 15 seconds behind Ferrar in 17:37.65 at the Apollo. Grove, who clocked in at 18:00.25 at conference, might contribute as the team’s No. 3 or No. 4 runner. Beadles and Armstrong, meanwhile, were both sub-18 minute runners most of the year. They took sixth and seventh, respectively, at the conference meet.
“Our goals are always to improve as a team,” Haacke said, “but we would like to have a chance at winning the Apollo and depending on a state series qualify for state.”
Just like all other teams and sports in the state, the cross country team will face restrictions and guidelines. Masks must be worn by athletes and coaches at all times. The only exception is when they are warming up, competing, or cooling down.
Start lines and staggered starts could be implemented, but Haacke believes the runners will overcome anything that is thrown their way when it comes to larger invitationals, such as the postseason or conference.
“We will adapt and overcome,” Haacke said. “The shortened season doesn’t bother me. We will be running our best times by then.”
Seniors: Tristin Grove, Mac Beadles, Tyler Warner.
Juniors: Brock Davee, Sam Ferrar, Quincy Hamilton, Chase Armstrong, Trent Hettinger.
Sophomores: Brandon Creel, Cale Fogarty, Waylon Schultz, Ty Eastin, Mitchell Gergeni, Brock Goonan, Nathan Morgan, Lincoln Scott.
Freshmen: Colton Smith, Aiden Hudson.
|8/24||Charleston||Douglas Hart Nature Center||4:30 pm|
|8/27||Charleston||EIU Panther Trails||4:30 pm|
|9/5||Charleton Invites||EIU Panther Trails||9 am|
|9/10||Mt. Zion||Ft. Daniels Conservation Area (Decatur)||4:30 pm|
|9/19||Olney Invite||Olney Central College||10 am|
|9/23||Charleston, Mt. Zion||Meadowview GC||4 pm|
|10/8||Champaign Central, Mt. Zion||Meadowview GC||4 pm|
|10/13||Apollo Conference||EIU Panther Trails||4:30 pm|
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