By Kyle Daubs

Trent Hettinger already had a team, so this was new. 

The Mattoon High School junior was accustomed to playing soccer in the fall. However, his plans changed after the pandemic shut down football, soccer and volleyball, which led numerous players to different sports. 

Running was natural for Hettinger, who was an 800-meter and 1,600-meter state qualifier in middle school before switching to soccer his freshman year at MHS.

In both sports, he relies on team support. Without that, Hettinger says he would not have earned All-Apollo cross country honors

“Being a part of the All-Apollo team is a huge success, both individually and for my team,” said Hettinger. “Without my team, I couldn’t have pushed myself to work as hard as I did.”

Hettinger claimed 10th in the Apollo meet at EIU by 4 seconds over Lincoln’s Garrett Slack in 17:08.4 , which was 16 seconds faster from when he ran in the Charleston Invitational six weeks earlier. 

“It was a tough race, but, in the end, I saw my coaches along the way and their words of encouragement and advice on the next move is what kept me going,” said Hettinger. “The mental note in the back of my head was thinking ‘my team needs me,’ and that is what carried me to the end of the race.”

Hettinger was one of four Wave runners who ran in the 17:00s to help pace Mattoon to a second-place finish. Tyler Warner (14th), Quincy Hamilton (15th), and Sam Ferrar (17th) were all in the mix. 

“To come into this cross country season and make all-conference is really almost unbelievable,” said Hettinger. “I came in since soccer was in the spring and while I intended to do the best for my team I never imagined getting an all conference title. It’s a confidence boost for sure, but I want to stay humble about it. Without Brock, Sam, Quincy, Tyler, or any of my other brothers on that team, I wouldn’t have made it. I’m thankful I was able to get my first all conference with a team like this.”

The Green Wave were led by Davee’s fourth-place finish when the now two-time All-Apollo runners clocked in at 16:12.5. Earlier in September, Davee had placed second at the CHS Invitational with a time of 15:52.7, but Davee was more focused on the team’s second place overall finish. 

“Being All-Apollo feels pretty good, but I still have more to prove after that race,” said Davee. “I’m very proud of my team for doing so good against this tough conference. “I feel I could have finished my last mile better, but it was still a great race and all of my teammates ran fantastic. 

Davee went into the race with the projection of being in the top two. His time would have been right up there as Mahomet-Seymour’s Kyle Nofziger (15:51.2) and Joseph Scheele (15:57.2) were second and third. 

“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m happy with the performance because it wasn’t the best I could run,” said Davee. “That’s fine and I will just need to get over this hump and move onto regionals. But this has given me a lot to think about and won’t be forgotten.”

The Green Wave next compete in Saturday’s regional meet set for the Christian County Fairgrounds in Taylorville.

“I’ve said it a lot, but it really is our team,” said Hettinger. “Without our team, practices would not be the same. They push me to work harder everyday and I did the same for them. We hold each other accountable and that’s why we succeed, along with the help of our coaches. Our coaches are always there for us and when we are in need of help they are always there, both about running or something else.”

The Taylorville Regional will feature strong competition. Apollo Conference individual champ Chris Cherry will return, as will Mahomet-Seymour. Throw in Olney, who clipped the Green Wave by just three points in an earlier meeting, and this could be a stacked Regional. 

Davee said there’s only one objective at this point. 

“I want to win, that’s really it,” said Davee. “I would rather have my team keep moving onto sectionals and from there. Even though we don’t have a state, it would be pretty nice to be named a state qualifying team.”