Charleston’s Megan Garrett, healthy for the first time in three years, won rather handily what had been expected to be a tight, three-way cross country battle Thursday afternoon.
Garrett, broke away from Apollo Conference runner-up Kylie Haacke of Mattoon and teammate Grace Spoonhour, both of whom qualified for the IHSA state meet last season, to post a time of 19 minutes, 57.69 seconds during a humid, hot evening race around EIU’s Panther Trail.
Charleston’s girls compiled 23 points, 26 better than Mattoon in each team’s first meet this season. Newton was another two points back with 51.
After seeing these seniors compete against each other the past six years, Mattoon coach Troy Haacke said: “It’s going to be fun to watch these three run all year.”
Garrett qualified for the state cross country meet as a freshman and has run the second-fastest time in CHS history at 18:40. Injuries, though, have hampered her the past two seasons. She placed 14th at the Apollo Conference meet.
Haacke ran a personal best 19:00.8 at last season’s Peoria Invitational and finished 11 seconds back to take second at the Apollo.
Spoonhour, meanwhile, eclipsed 20 minutes for three miles eight times last season, posting a person best time of 19 minutes, 15.1 seconds. She took sixth at the Apollo meet.
Garrett, Haacke and Spoonhour ran together through the first mile Thursday, Spoonhour trailing by a few steps. Spoonhour dropped back about 25 yards about 500 yards later, after a loop around the pond while Haacke ran right behind Garrett. By 2 1/2 miles, Garrett had moved more than 100 yards ahead and eventually extended the lead to nearly 28 seconds.
Haacke finished in 20.25.90, followed a minute later by Spoonhour (21:31.03).
Cross country seasons are fluid, conditions vary, times fluctuate and runners peak at different times. So these three runners are likely to battle through the season – and will do so again on this same course Sept. 5 for the CHS Invitational and in October for the Apollo Conference meet.
“Megan has just been determined all year to see what she can do (this season),” said CHS girls coach Chris Hawk, “and I think that she showed that a little bit today.”
- Megan Garrett, Charleston, 19:57.69
- Kylie Haacke, Mattoon, 20:25.90
- Grace Spoonhour, Charleston 21:31.03
- Ila Richter, Charleston, 22:05.06
- Laney Hemrich, Newton, 23:53.45
- Lilly Long, Charleston, 23:54.18
- Lucy Yager, Newton, 24:18.27
- Ashley Jobe, Mattoon, 24:45.49
- Whitley Wood, Charleston, 25:09.12
- Elly Bennett, Newton, 25:17.29
- Alexis Hetzer, Newton, 26:03.73
- Oakley Layton, Mattoon, 26:45.79
- Hallee Perry, Mattoon, 26:59.76
- Kaylin Richey, Mattoon, 27:14.26
- Isabella Kiefer, Charleston, 27:21.18
- Chloe Jobe, Mattoon, 27:31.76
- Jordyn Kieffer, Charleston, 27:50.27
- Taylor Slough, Newton, 28:04.61