Look out for the south.
Heading into Saturday’s IHSA Class 2A Olney Sectional, the southern region of Illinois is going to be gunning for the top five spots. Even though there is no state series for cross country this season, being considered a state qualifier is still an honor, something Mattoon Green Wave are hoping to be named.
“I hope we will be a contending team,” said Mattoon coach Troy Haacke. “Our boys have competed against some of the best all year.”
As of now, Mattoon is projected to be the ninth-best team in the sectional. Leading the charge appears to be the team of Chatham-Glenwood, which won its regional by 60 points. Chatham’s top five runners finished in the top seven at the Jacksonville Regional. The 2.9 course featured Aidan Patterson winning the regional in 15:21.9, trailed by senior teammate Thomas Herbst 2 seconds later. All five Chatham-Glenwood runners finished below 16 minutes.
Bethalto Civic Memorial’s coach Jacob Peal has seen Titans run plenty of times and believes the team will also win the sectional. He also pegs Mascoutah and Marion as the top contenders, while also citing Mahomet-Seymour as a state qualifying team.
Marion freshman Dylan Nalley was the Highland Regional runner-up with a time of 15:29.0, while the team finished second, behind Mascoutah, whose five runners were below 16:32.
“Chatham and Marion are two very good teams,” said Haacke. “I want our runners to believe that they can run with anyone. We set a goal to be one of the top teams in the state. This gives another chance to prove that.”
Competing for the final team spot will require major outings from the Wave runners. Mahomet-Seymour handily won the Taylorville Regional and were the Apollo Conference champions. Olney and Champaign Central defeated the Wave by 38 and 26 points, respectively.
However, Mattoon features at least two runners who could contend for unofficial individual state berths. Brock Davee, coming off a third place finish at the regiona,l will be in the mix for top 10.
He’ll contend with Taylorville’s Chris Cherry, the Apollo and Taylorville Regional individual champion, as well as Carbondale’s Alex Partlow (15:17.4) and Tucker Poshard (15:40.0), and Rochester’s Matt Herran (15:24.7). Davee ran 15:48.8 while teammate Trent Hettinger placed ninth in 16:40.4.
“There are two runners from Carbondale who appear to have the fast times, Alexander Partlow and Tucker Poshard, along with Dylon Nalley from Marion look to be the front runners,” said Haacke. “Brock Davee and Trent Hettinger have been our top two runners, and they will be in the hunt for a state berth.”
Olney (Richland County) Sectional
Where: Olney Central College, 305 N. West Street, Olney
When: Saturday, 10 a.m.