Kylie Haacke (center, white uniform) nearly posted a season best time Saturday. (Photo/Mike Monahan)
By Mike Monahan
CHILLICOTHE – The ‘unofficial’ state championship in cross country was held at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe Saturday in what was the final high school race for Mattoon’s Kylie Haacke, Charleston’s Grace Spoonhour and classmate Megan Garrett.
Mattoon junior Brock Davee and Charleston sophomore Ila Richter were also invited.
“I didn’t expect to make it at all,” said Richter on an unseasonably warm day. “I am really proud to make it to this. It is a big accomplishment.”
This state meet differed from the IHSA meet held at Detweiler Park not far away in Peoria in a few ways – they ran 5K, one-tenth of a mile more than the three-mile distance in high school events, and runners could not wear their high school uniforms. Plus, there were also no starting boxes meaning runners could line up anywhere on the starting line.
One thing that didn’t change – all five local runners spent Friday night in the area so they could run the course the day before.
“I think it is really an honor to be up here and run,” said Haacke, the only local runner to medal after she finished 20th in 19 minutes, 44.90 seconds. “This was definitely a different course and unique. It is harder than Detweiller Park because of terrain and more ups and downs.”
Spoonhour agreed on the course.
“It really helped because it is such a different course,” said Spoonhour. “I wasn’t expecting all of the different sceneries. It really helped to be here Friday and visualize the course a little better.”
Haacke, Spoonhour, Garrett and Richter all started next to one another and the Charleston girls designed uniforms that were black with red and white on the side and a Trojan head on the front of their shirt.
Haacke used Mahomet-Seymour’s Elizabeth Sims as someone she wanted to help push her.
“I ran my race and I knew Elizabeth was up there and I caught her in the woods and I knew I had to hold on because she is such a strong runner.”
Haacke beat Sims by 12.93 seconds to finish six spots ahead of her. Haacke’s time at the three-mile mark was 19:04, which was just a second behind her season-best.
“I left it all out there,” said Haacke. “I was really exhausted. There were so many times I felt like I just can’t run any faster today.”
Davee finished 62nd out of 173 with a time of 17:26.69.
“It was a really long, long season and I am glad all of my hard work paid off,” said Davee. “I am also happy that my teammates came and supported me.”
Before Davee ran at 1 p.m., he cheered on Haacke. He said he might have been running around too much before his race.
“My legs were really really worn out during the race and I couldn’t run like I did most of the season,” said Davee.
Runners entered the wooded area, which covered about a half mile of the course, just before the two-mile mark. Haacke said they have run in the woods at Olney and at Mount Zion.
“There were some spots where there was rock or gravel, which made it harder to get your footing,” said Haacke, who added you had to look down so you didn’t step on a rock and roll your ankle. “There was also some soft sand or dirt which was really hard to get your footing also. Other than that, it felt like it was really fast.”
Spoonhour, who finished in 21:08.86 for 75th out of 160 total runners, enjoyed running in the woods.
“Usually in the woods it is hard to run and it hurts your feet,” said Spoonhour. “I ran on the edges most of the time because I was slipping down the hills. I like it as it was a good break between the sun.”
Garrett finished 85th in 21:19.43.
“The course was fun and it was nice not to have to repeat anything as I am used to doing multiple loops of the same thing,” said Garrett. “The course was kind of hard and some of the footing was a little bad. There was one hill where it was loose sand it was kind of like you were going backwards when you ran up it.”
Garrett was happy to run with Spoonhour and Richter one more time.
“I just tried to have fun even though it didn’t go as I planned,” said Garrett.
Richter finished 137th with a time of 22:27.39.
“There were quite a few hills so it was definitely tougher than a lot of courses we have run,” said Richter.
Davee said being in the meet shows that he is capable.
“I just have to come back next year a little stronger and work hard this offseason to get ready for track,” said Davee.
Spoonhour said it was sad thinking that this was her last race in high school.
“I thought about that fact it was my last race and I just wanted to do my best and go out on a good note,” said Spoonhour.