By Kyle Daubs

When it comes to track, all you have to do is look at times and distances, right?

So having accessible, clear data should have made selecting the best track and field athletes easier.

Yet, it was no easy task putting together the decade’s best group of athletes from such a talented group.

The All-Decade girls track team features school records and all-state performances. Only one event featured an individual who did not go to state, which makes this group even more talented.

Our framework includes an individual or season that featured the best result for each event at a track meet. We did not include the class of the athletes since the best season did not always happen during their senior season. Instead, we featured the season that the event took place, unless it was noted otherwise.

On your mark, get set, go!

Pole Vault: Kelsi Abolt (CHS 2013): Abolt was a senior when she placed sixth overall at the state meet. Abolt’s vault of 10 feet, 9 inches remains a school record. Abolt was a fixture at the state meet for multiple years. Abolt went on to compete at Eastern Illinois University.

Triple Jump: Summerlyn Smith (MHS 2018 & 2019): Smith’s jumping abilities were displayed in the triple jump. As a junior, Smith posted a jump of 36-9, which was eighth best. As a senior, Smith improved to 36-10 3/4, which placed her seventh overall.

Long Jump: Morgan Sherwood (CHS 2016) & Summerlyn Smith (MHS 2018): This was an easy tie. Sherwood jumped the best out of the two by going 17 feet, 9 1/2 inches at the sectional to move on to state. At state, Sherwood jumped 17-4, which placed 11th overall. Smith jumped 17-3 3/4 at the state meet, which placed her eighth overall. Both were outstanding long jumpers. Smith went on to play volleyball at Parkland College where she was named all-American for the national runner-up Cobras.

Morgan Sherwood

High Jump: Sarah Flight (CHS 2017): Flight holds the school record with a jump of 5 feet, 7 inches, but her best track season came in 2017. Flight’s jump of 5-5 was three inches behind the state champion as she placed second overall. Flight’s performance ranks as tied for the highest state finish by a female individually or in a relay in Coles County. Flight now competes at the University of Notre Dame.

Shot Put: Makenna Wilson (CHS 2017): Wilson threw a school-record throw of 41 feet, 9 inches at the IHSA Sectional to advance to state. Wilson placed eighth overall at state with a throw of 39-10. An Honorable-Mention goes to Tayler Weaver, who threw 39-5, and competed at Illinois State University. Wilson was named the Ohio Valley Track Athlete of the Year a few weeks ago after scoring 27 points during the conference meet.

Discus: Morgan Sherwood (CHS-2016) & Makenna Wilson (CHS 2017): This was another easy tie. Sherwood’s throw of 125-6 ranks higher than any throw by Wilson, but Sherwood finished sixth in the state. Wilson’s throw of 124-9 earned third overall at state during her senior year. In the end, Wilson continued to compete in track, while Sherwood competed in basketball for Southern Indiana University.

4×100 Meter Relay: Michaela McBride, Makenna Wilson, Maegan Flight, Paige Minor (CHS 2016): Wilson and Minor eventually became teammates at EIU, while Flight was a four-time state qualifier in tennis, who came out for track her senior year. The team ran a school-record time of 50.22.

4×200 Meter Relay: LeAndra Webb, Summerlyn Smith, Brina Thompson, Sierra Thompson (MHS 2016): The group ran a time at state of 1:45.80, which technically placed 10th overall. The top-9 times move onto the the state finals. This group’s time missed finals by 0.5 seconds exactly. Throw this group on the track another time, and they might be wearing a state medal.

4×400 Meter Relay: Summerlyn Smith, Kaleila Princko, Anna VanHyfte, Mariah Ball (MHS 2018): Three of the four were part of an all-state junior high relay, so their development in high school was not as surprising. The group ran a time of 4 minutes, .95 seconds, which earned third overall at the state meet. Princko went from being an alternate in junior high to becoming a major contributor in high school.

4×800 Meter Relay: Megan Shaffer, Elle Drake, Taylor Smith, Victoria Drake (MHS 2014): This 4×800 meter relay was filled with talented athletes, featuring two Division I athletes and one Division III athlete. The team ran a time of 9 minutes, 31.16 seconds at the state meet, which finished third overall. Their time was the best out of any relay in the decade, which is saying something. Mattoon was known for its 4×800 relays, but this group was far superior.

Taylor Smith (fourth from the left) and Megan Shaffer (to her left) took third in the 4×800 relay in 2014.

100 Meters: Sharifa Hurtault (CHS 2016): This was a tough choice, but Hurtault gets the nod. Her time of 12.62 seconds landed her in the state meet as a freshman. Sierra Thompson once ran a 12.15 as a freshman, but Hurtault ran the 100 more often, competing all four years.

200 Meters: Sierra Thompson (MHS 2014): Thompson’s freshman season ended with an all-state finish. Thompson ran a county-best 25.85 seconds, which earned her ninth overall at the state meet. Thompson became a fixture on relays during her final two years, but she opted out of track her senior year. Thompson went on to play basketball at Bowling Green University.

400 Meters: Summerlyn Smith (MHS 2019): Smith is the greatest 400 meter runner in the county and all-time. Smith ran a time of 57.75 at state, which earned her third overall. Smith is one of the best overall track athletes the county has ever seen. However, Smith plays volleyball at Parkland College despite receiving numerous Division I offers.

800 Meters: Megan Garrett (CHS 2018 & 2019): As an individual, Garrett is the best at her event. Garrett ran a school-record 2 minutes, 18.01 seconds as a freshman to place sixth overall. She followed that with a time of 2:22.27 her sophomore year to place sixth overall a second year in a row. If it wasn’t for COVID-19 wiping out her junior track season, it’s possible she would have three state medals.

Megan Garrett

1,600 Meters: Megan Shaffer (MHS 2014): Shaffer tied Flight for the best overall finish at a state meet by finishing as the mile runner-up. As a junior, Shaffer ran a time of 5 minutes, 6.85 seconds. She was 4 seconds behind the state champion, but Shaffer’s mile ranks as the best mile performance by any girl all-time in Coles County. Shaffer went on to run at Lewis University.

3,200 Meters: Grace Oetting (CHS 2015): Oetting’s two-year track career was capped off during her senior year. Oetting’s school-record time of 11 minutes, 31.37 seconds was good enough to take ninth overall at the state meet. Oetting finished all-state by 1 second. She left CHS as the school’s best distance runner.

Grace Oetting

110 Hurdles: Peyton Sledge (CHS 2014): The 110 hurdles were the only event that did not feature any runner from the county in a state meet. However, Sledge did qualify for state in the 300-meter hurdles and is a former Apollo Conference champion in the 110 hurdles. If anyone deserves to be on the list, it would be Sledge.

300-Meter Hurdles: Taylor Smith (MHS 2014 & 2015): Smith’s older sister, Taylor, was just as talented. As a junior, Smith placed ninth overall at state by running a time of 46.41. Then, Smith followed that up with a senior season time of 46.44, which earned her fifth place at state. Smith went on to play volleyball at Eastern Illinois University.