Pictured: Grace Spoonhour (left), Kylie Haacke and Megan Garrett.
By Kyle Daubs
Megan Garrett and Grace Spoonhour aren’t going to fixate over “what ifs.”
Both Garrett and Spoonhour have donned Charleston jerseys at the IHSA state cross country meet in the past. With no state meet due to the pandemic, the two seniors will officially have one final race Saturday at the Olney Sectional.
But teams and individuals will still try to measure whether they would have reached the state meet. Charleston has a chance to artificially qualify both – although neither Garrett nor Spoonhour is worried about that right now.
“My goal is to run a season PR and to place well,” said Spoonhour. “Since there is not a normal state, I want to finish my high school season in the best way possible.”
Spoonhour qualified for state last season as a junior, while Garrett made the state meet as a freshman. Garrett has battled back from two different injuries in the past to pace the 2020 season as one of the best runners in the area.
Garrett placed fourth overall at the Taylorville Regional, while Spoonhour was 11th. Garrett’s time of 19 minutes, 35.1 seconds was down from her seasonal average, but her focus will be shooting for the top-10.
“I hope to enjoy my last high school race and place well,” said Garrett. “I know that if I place well, a good time will come with it.”
Charleston’s third senior, Isabella Kieffer, will run for the final time on Saturday as well. Kieffer, Garrett and Spoonhour have raced with each other for all four years.
“I would really like to end my race knowing I gave it my all and pushed my teammates in the front of me, too,” said Kieffer. “If we all leave proud of our hard work and ourselves, that would be an amazing last race.”
Kieffer ran her best race of the season at the Regional by finishing 23:45.5, which was well below her last race of 25:06.8 at the Apollo Conference championships.
“The most memorable part of Saturday was seeing my teammates and coaches all around the course cheering me on and phishing me to do my best,” said Kieffer. “It was tough not warming up and lining up to start together, but their cheers and encouragement meant the world to me.”
It was an unorthodox day for the team. For the first time ever, the postseason was held in waves. After running her first race, Garrett had about six hours of races to watch, but the team’s No. 1 runner didn’t mind.
“I had a fun time getting to watch and cheer on my teammates because of the flights,” said Garrett. “I don’t normally get to watch them run. It was so fun watching them work so hard and seeing all the hard work we put in at practice pay off.”
Typically, Spoonhour has Garrett to pace her during the race. Instead, Spoonhour was a leader in her own race with the No. 2 and No. 3 runners. Racing without her teammate did not create any strange feelings.
For Spoonhour, the feelings didn’t truly hit until she realized this was her last postseason when she finished her wave with a time of 20:25.5.
“It truly hit me when I finished my race that this was the last regionals,” said Spoonhour. “The whole team stood out to me on Saturday. Not only did everyone kill it during their races, but everyone was so supportive during the other heats. I loved being able to watch all the people I usually run with race.”
Heading into this Saturday, Charleston will need breakout performances from some of their runners in order to place top-5 as a team.
Mahomet-Seymour, Mascoutah, Highland, Waterloo, Troy Triad, Chatham Glenwood, and Mount Zion are all projected in front of Charleston. However, Kieffer believes that the team can shell out one more great race.
“We have all put in so many months of hard work that I believe we could,” said Kiefer. “Our team has had a really wonderful season, so I’m really excited to see what we can do in this last race.”
Spoonhour just wants to see one last effort from everyone no matter how the results end.
“I don’t know our exact standings against the other teams,” Spoonhour said, “however, I am just hoping that everyone runners their best and we all have fun in our last race together.”