Grace Oetting (above)

We are celebrating performances by athletes who competed at Mattoon and Charleston high schools from 2010-20. If some of your favorites are left off this list, please forgive us. It’s a difficult task selecting only a few among so many talented athletes.  

By Kyle Daubs

Coles County has had a heckuva decade when it comes to girls cross country.

Mattoon had one of its best four-year runs in the sport’s history while a Charleston qualified for state for the first time in 20 years. There were some other grand performances within the Apollo Conference.

Our framework features a full squad of severn runners. We also apologized to one runner and included one for fun.

All-Decade Coles County Girls Cross Country Team

One for Fun: Sheridan Noll: CHS Class of 2015: Noll’s freshman season featured a race of 23 minutes, but she cut that down to 19:14 at the state meet. Noll was a back-end runner who helped Charleston qualify for state in 2014, but she was also known for making colored hair look cool, too.

Apologies: Megan Garrett: CHS Class of 2021: Garrett would be higher on this list if injuries hadn’t hampered her past two seasons. As a freshman, Garrett looked to take off in the sport of cross country. She ran a time of 18:40, which is the second-fastest time in CHS history. She was All-Apollo, the Mattoon Invitational champ, and a state qualifier. However, injuries have negated major accolades during her sophomore and junior campaigns. But she appears to be healthy and again running at a high level this season, having won the CHS Invitational in just under 18:59.67.

No. 7. Kylie Haacke: MHS Class of 2021: Even though Haacke has one more year left, she has done enough to carve her name on the team. Haacke is a two-time All-Apollo selection, including finishing up as the conference runner-up last season. Haacke has a personal-best time of 19:00.08. Haacke is a two-time state qualifier, where she looks to qualify for a third time – at least for a possible unofficial state meet.

No. 6. Cassy Shaffer: MHS Class of 2013: Shaffer was a three-time All-Big 12 Conference selection and an All-Apollo selection in her one year competing there. Along with her four all-conference selections, she was a major contributor for two-state qualifying teams during her time. She once ran a time of 18:58 before eventually heading to EIU. 

No. 5. Quincy Collings: MHS Class of 2020: Collings just wrapped up a cross country career where she was a three-time All-Apollo selection. Her time of 18:40 as a sophomore still ranks as one of the fastest in school history. A two-time state qualifier as an individual, Collings will continue her career at Millikin. 

No. 4. Victoria Drake: MHS Class of 2014: Drake was an instrumental part of helping three Lady Wave teams qualify for state. Drake is a former All-Big 12 selection and Apollo Conference champion, which included beating her teammate, Cassy Shaffer, by 4 seconds. Her personal best was 18:56. Drake was also a former IHSA Regional runner-up. She went on to run at Illinois Wesleyan. 

No. 3. Whitney Maninfior: MHS Class of 2014: Maninfior paced the Lady Wave’s first-ever appearance at state in 2010 by placing third at the IHSA Sectional. She is a former Apollo Conference champion and IHSA Regional runner-up. Her time of 18:39 still ranks as one of the best for three miles. She placed as high as 42nd at the state meet before running at Eastern Illinois. 

No. 2. Megan Shaffer: MHS Class of 2015: Shaffer is the only other runner in the county to break 18-minutes. Shaffer ran a school-record 17:55 as a junior. She is a former regional, sectional, and Apollo Conference champion, as well as reaching All-Big 12. Shaffer helped lead two different state qualifying teams, including Mattoon’s best all-time finish when the team took 14th overall. Shaffer ran at the state meet all four years in high school before competing for Lewis University. 

No 1. Grace Oetting: CHS Class of 2015: The No. 1 overall runner spot was a toss-up, but Oetting finished with the best finish at the state meet and had a better overall time compared to her rivals. Oetting led Charleston to a team berth for the first time in 20 years by winning the Decatur MacArthur Sectional. As a senior, she won the Apollo Conference. Her time of 17:46 is the best of the decade. Oetting finished All-State by placing 10th overall. What makes this even more impressive is that Oetting did this in just two years as she didn’t join cross country until her junior year. She went on to run at Lipscomb University. 

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