Mattoon’s Brock Davee has a slight lead at 800 meters Saturday. (photo/Mike Monahan)

By Mike Monahan

TAYLORVILLE – On a day that started with temperatures that felt like 31 degrees and warmed only to 42 by the last race, many Mattoon and Charleston runners posted personal records in the IHSA Class 2A cross country regional at the Christian County Fairgrounds.

The Charleston girls took second to advance to a 12th consecutive sectional while Mattoon extended its streak to 10 by finishing fifth. 

The Mattoon boys, who took fourth, also qualified for next Saturday’s sectional that will be held at Olney Central College.

IHSA won’t hold a state meet this year due to COVID-19 health concerns, although an unofficial meet is scheduled for Chillicothe the week after sectionals.

“It (sectionals) is like state this year,” said Mattoon coach Troy Haacke. “It is as close as we can get. “It is nice that basketball is later than normal so we don’t have to worry about any overlapping. This is a close-knit group. Both the boys and girls have worked extremely hard all year, and I am proud of everything they have accomplished.”

The Lady Trojans compiled 110 points in the 11-team meet won by Mahomet-Seymour, which had 50. Mattoon had 139 points, two better than Champaign Central. The top five teams and the top five individuals not on an advancing team move on to the sectional. 

The Green Wave boys earned 113 points, which was 18 better than fifth-place Urbana in the 11-team meet won by Mahomet-Seymour at 48. Charleston finished 11th with 292 points, but Luca Carcasi qualified for Saturday’s sectional by being the fourth runner not on an advancing team. 

To separate runners for health concerns, the top three runners on each team raced in the first flight while the Nos. 4 and 5 went in the second flight and Nos. 6 and 7 ran in a third flight for both boys and girls. 

Charleston’s Megan Garrett finishes strongly Saturday. (photo/Mike Monahan)

GIRLS

Kylie Haacke, the lone senior for MHS, earned third and placed for the first time in her career at the regional. 

“I didn’t know what to expect because there are four or five girls that are all right there and it could have gone either way,” said Haacke. “It would have been cool to be regional champion, but Elizabeth Sims (Mahomet-Seymour) totally deserved that win (19:08.0). She is just a fantastic runner. I was just hoping to place and run well.”

Haacke said her best is a 19:03 that she ran on Senior Night at Meadowview Golf Course. She clocked in at 19:24.4 on Saturday. 

“I have been emotional today just because it is my last regional meet,” Haacke said. “I have one more meet left and it is sad, but I am happy and excited to go to sectionals.”

Haacke said she definitely dressed warmer and took a longer warm-up to make sure her muscles were loose and ready to go.

Haacke said she ran this course her freshman year as did Charleston’s Megan Garrett, but she had not run it since. 

“We have talked about making sure we accelerate around the turns,” said Haacke. “It helps to break up the course a little bit.” 

Garrett ran the course a few weeks ago for practice.

“I am glad we ran here this year earlier because my freshman year feels like forever ago,” said Garrett, a senior, who finished fourth overall with a time of 19:35.1. 

Garrett led Haacke early on, but Haacke passed her before the first mile and stayed ahead after that. The two have gone back and forth throughout the season. 

“I like this course because it is flat and the turns give you good surge opportunities,” said Garrett. “They have every half mile marked, which helps me get through the race and is nice. Most courses don’t have that marked.”

Garrett said she was proud of how she finished because she had a pretty strong finish. 

“The weather was better than being super hot,” said Garrett, who feels she has to work in the middle of the race.

Earning PRs for Mattoon were Ashley Jobe (20:53.1), Chloe Jobe (21:23.6), Oakley Layton (22:45.8), Hallee Perry (22:48.6) and Lauryn Samuelson (28:17.9).

“They came in with the attitude that they were going to run it for Kaylie and that is why you saw the performance you did,” said MHS assistant girls coach Liz Shewmaker, who was also elated that Layton, a freshman, finished fourth. Layton ran in the final flight.

“From start to finish, Oakley ran the strongest race I have ever seen her run,” said Shewmaker. “She came in at the first mile in 6:28 and I got a little scared because I didn’t know that Oakley (who finished with a time of 22:45.8)  was capable of a 6:28 mile, but she stayed strong. Followed that up with other incredible splits and she just had an awesome race. She definitely  made a difference for us in our team score.”

Layton finished just ahead of Perry, who trailed by 2.8 seconds with a time of 22:48.6.

“We had No. 2 through No. 5 runners running regional for the first time as it is their first year out (Ashley and Cloe Jobe, Layton and Perry). The gains they made for the first of the season until now is just awesome. To drop 1:30 off their personal best – that is a 30-second average per mile and that is crazy.”

How were five girls able to run that much faster ?

“I think some of it was excitement as four girls have never run a regional,” said coach Troy Haacke. “I think some of the talent was there and today showed, but three miles is a long way and they are always unsure how to run it – and today they put it together and showed their ability a little bit more. “

Charleston girls coach Chris Hawk was happy with this team’s performance. 

“They finished about where we expected to finish,” Hawk said. “We were hoping for some break-out performances and, if luck turned our way, maybe we could challenge Mahomet. It didn’t quite work out for us today, but we ended up second. I was really pleased with the way the girls all got out at the beginning of the race and put themselves in the front of the pack. We are looking forward to next week now.”

Hawk said Whitley Wood competed well, clocking in at 23:02.1.

“She was battling a girl from Danville (Kaity Parker)) and neither one of them could seem to break away from the other one and she pulled away at the very end.”

BOYS

There were two big stories for the Mattoon boys’ team:

  1. Brock Davee, a junior, finishing third with a personal best time of 15:48.8 
  2. Senior captain Mackinley Beadles taking 37th overall, and fourth for MHS, with a time of 17:37 – marking his third successive year qualifying for sectionals. He did so individually as a sophomore. 

“I am just happy for the boys,” said coach Troy Haacke. “They ran so well all year and placed so high. The expectations were pretty big for them this year and (they) managed to pull it off. Mackinley Beadles ran the third flight and ran a great race. The points he earned were big and his time was huge.”

He has been the team’s No. 6 runner for most of the season.

“He works hard and does everything right and he showed up big today,” said Haacke.

Sam Ferrar, battling a knee injury, finished fifth for MHS in 17:39.8.

Davee, meanwhile, was led for the first mile, stayed near the front for part of the race.

“I feel a little more comfortable running in the front,” said Davee, who posted a personal-best time by 7 seconds. “My coach (assistant coach Dale Righter) told me to come out a little conservative, but I guess none of the other guys wanted me to stay behind. When I am the leader, it is kind of like being chased or running scared.”

Davee said he dressed really warm with layers and stayed in the tent for a while to stay out of the wind. 

“The wind was a little chilly and we finished into the wind,” said Davee. “You have got to truck then. I could not get my wheels going in the last 300, but I gave it the best I could.”

Before the official results were posted, Davee said: “I would not mind going to sectional as an individual, but I would rather go as a team. I really hope that we go as a team because I love these guys and they have been a lot of fun this year.”

Haacke said of Davee: “He is such a competitor and I think he was trying to redeem himself from the Apollo Conference race, although he ran very well. He put it together and was determined to run that fast. Just to run a mile as fast as they run is just incredible.”

Greg Rogers, in his third year coaching Charleston’s boys, said he talked with Carcasi, about positioning himself to qualify for sectionals. 

“The main goal was that he had to get out hard for the first half mile just to put yourself in that position,” Rogers said. “There have been very races where he has had himself up with the leaders and mixed it up early in the races. He was in 15th place after the first 800 and kept that position all the way.”

Rogers told Carcasi, a junior, to go out with Mattoon’s Nos. 2 and 3 runners, which helped him to post a personal-best three miles in 17:03.5, a 7-second improvement. 

“I feel like I usually go out hard and usually drop off with the first 100-200 meters after the first 800 meters,” said Carcasi. “This time I tried to stay with Trent Hettinger (Mattoon’s No. 2 runner) as long as I could and I was 10 seconds quicker at the mile mark. I felt stronger than I usually do. To go to sectionals means a lot because I put in a lot of hard work in the summer.”

GIRLS RESULTS

Girls team scores: 1. Mahomet-Seymour 50, 2. Charleston 110, 3. Olney 119, 4. Taylorville 129, 5. Mattoon 139, 6. Champaign Central 141, 7. Effingham 149, 8. Champaign Centennial 151, 9. Danville 185, 10. Urbana 187. Rantoul competed, but didn’t have enough runners for a team score

Individual champion: Elizabeth Sims, Mahomet-Seymour 19:08

Charleston results: 4. Megan Garrett 19:35. 1; 11. Grace Spoonhour 20:25.5; 21. La Ritcher 20:55.4; 34. Lilly Long 21:48.6; 40. Sophie Kattenbraker 22:24.0; 45. Whitley Wood 23:02.1; 50. Isabella Kieffer 23:45.5

Mattoon results: 3. Kylie Haacke 19:24.4; 20. Ashley Jobe 20:53.1; 31. Chloe Jobe 21:23.6; 42. Oakley Layton 22:45.8; 45. Hallee Perry 22:48.6; 60. Kaylin Richey 25:18.1; 65. Lauren Samuelson 28:17.9

BOYS RESULTS

Boys Team scores: 1. Mahomet-Seymour 48; 2. Olney 75; 3. Champaign Central 87; 4. Mattoon 113; 5. Urbana 131; 6. Taylorville 134; 7. Champaign Centennial 140; 8. Effingham 229; 9. Rantoul 250; 10. Danville 274; 11. Charleston 292

Individual winner: Chris Cherry, Taylorville 15:35.5

Mattoon results: 3. Brock Davee 15:48.8; 9; Trent Hettinger 16:40.4; 24. Quincy Hamilton 17:15.8; 37. Mackinley Beadles 17:37.0; 40. Sam Ferrar 17:39.8; 55. Brandon Creel 18:25.5; 59. Tristan Grove 18:45.4

Charleston results: 18. Luca Carcasi 17:05.5; 64. Adam Rudibaugh 19:08.8; 67. Eugene Ohba 19:22.5; 70. Mason Reeley 20:01.3; 73. Ashton Fifield 20:20.9; 75. Nicholas Hawk 23:33.5; 76. Marshall Smith 24:26.7