In likely the craziest sports year we will witness, local athletes endured canceled practices, abbreviated and delayed seasons – and COVID itself – with patience, determination and aplomb that yielded many amazing performances.
The Lake Land women went on a historic run through the NJCAA basketball tournament to capture the school’s first national championship – a year after the program’s title hopes had been ripped away by the pandemic.
The Charleston High baseball team advanced to its first Super Sectional tournament, reaching the Elite Eight for the first time since 1960, while the football team endured a season delayed until spring to post its first winning season in nearly a decade.
Mattoon High’s baseball team, meanwhile, rallied from a 1-6 start to go on a 12-game regular-season winning streak to capture the Apollo Conference title – and then won its regional opener in walk-off fashion. And the Green Wave golf team captured a regional team title behind medalist Meade Johnson.
Plus, a swimmer from CHS took four sectional titles, set four pool records and eclipsed numerous school records. But like other swimmers – along with those who competed in volleyball, basketball, golf, girls tennis, cross country, wrestling and football – they were not allowed to compete for an IHSA state championship.
Let’s also not forget that Charleston girls basketball went undefeated behind its all-time scoring leader, Shae Littleford, that Mattoon soccer featured players who set scoring and assist marks that helped them win a regional title and that a Green Wave wrestler captured second in the state championships.
So many great performances.
Midst this proverbial sea of talent, we named Charleston’s Cory Spour our first Coles County Sports Athlete of the Year, which you can read by going here. But, holy cow, each season brought another wave of talent.
Congrats to all who gave their best during an uncertain year. That, perhaps, might be the best reward at the end of the season.
Here is the complete list of those made our 2020-21 All-Coles County Athletic Team.
ALL-COLES COUNTY SPORTS
Cory Spour (CHS) — Spour was the heart and soul for all three sports he played this past season. In football, he was named an All-Apollo running back and defensive back. He averaged 8.2 yards per carrying after rushing for 594 yards and eight touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder also led the team in assists in basketball. In baseball, Spour stole 28 bases, scored 45 times, and included clutch hits all season en route to the team making the Elite 8.
Meade Johnson (MHS) — Johnson also had an incredible sports year, excelling in both golf and baseball. He concluded his golf career with two of his best efforts. The All-Apollo golfer was the Class 2A Paris Regional champion. His medalist performance was highlighted by defeating Cameron Ray of Lawrenceville by just one stroke. Then, he teamed up with Stewart Druin and Colton Romine to lead the team to a third-place sectional finish. The team finished the golf season as the Apollo Conference champions, Regional champions, and would have qualified for state had they not been canceled. In baseball, he led the Green Wave to an Apollo Conference championship, leading the team in both hitting and on the mound. He posted an ERA of 1.40 and outpitched several top prospects in matchups.
Angela Coe (CHS) — No athlete dominated in a single sport more than Coe, who won four events at the IHSA swimming sectional event, setting four pool records and qualifying for all events for a state meet that was canceled. Coe joins Lauren Pentzien as the only Charleston girls swimmers to win a sectional event. Coe would have been seeded No. 2 in both the 200 IM and 100 flies based upon sectional times the state typically relies upon. She easily won the 200 IM by 16 seconds in 2 minutes, 1.56 seconds, and took the 100 flies by .64 in 54.12. Coe also posted the fourth-best time in winning the 100 breast by nearly 9 seconds, running 1:02.58 and clocked 4:57.09 to win the 500 free for the fifth-best time in the state. Coe also set every Charleston High individual school record.
Lake Land womens basketball – Conversely, no single team dominated like this persistent, defensive-minded, clutch team which fought off injuries, delays and numerous top-ranked teams to capture the program’s first national tournament. Harley Barry was named the NJCAA national tournament MVP, but Kamaria Gant arguably could have been named as a co-winner. Abby Weis hit key 3-pointers in regional play and key free throws in the championship game while several other players stepped up when needed all season long.
Brady Foster and Kiefer Duncan (MHS) – Brady Foster came within a few points of capturing the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association state championship last Friday in Springfield, a meet that served as the state finals after the IHSA had canceled its event. The junior had also won a sectional title at 106 pounds. Duncan, meanwhile, earned a third successive state berth by advancing to this past week’s IWCOA tourney, where he finished sixth overall at 152 pounds.
Faith Niebrugge & Lilly Ghere (MHS) — This duo of Mattoon soccer players was one of the best finishers in this area in years. Niebrugge set the school record with 43 goals this season while Ghere finished with an impressive 39. The combined 82 goals from the two players outscored some teams from the surrounding area. In addition, Ghere broke the school’s season record for assists and in helping the team reach the sectional finals. Plus, Niebrugge set the career mark for goals despite having played in only two seasons. Consider this, too: They both return to the team next season.
Shae Littleford (CHS) — Littleford finished her basketball career as the greatest ever at CHS. She helped lead the team to an undefeated season. Littleford, a 5-foot-7 guard, averaged 24.6 points per game to help the Trojans finish the season 15-0. Littleford also averaged 4.5 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 steals to earn all-state status for the fourth straight season.
Megan Garrett (CHS)— Garrett finished her racing career with a third All-State finish in the 800-meter dash, taking fifth at the Class 2A meet. She set school records in the 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1,600-meter runs this season. She also won the 1,600-meter run at the Apollo Conference championships. In cross country, she competed at the unofficial state cross country championships.
Harley Barry (LLC) — Harley Barry was named the postseason’s Most Valuable Player after leading the Lake Land Lakers to an NJCAA national championship. Barry, a Shiloh grad, played for sports co-op Tri-County that includes Oakland, Kansas and Shiloh.
Sam Schuette (CHS) — Had there been playoffs in football, the Charleston Trojans might have qualified for the first time since 2012. Schuette was an Honorable-Mention All-State selection at defensive back, as well as an All-Apollo selection on both offense and defense. He recorded six interceptions in six games. The school record is nine, so who knows what could have happened in a full season.
Mallory Ramage (MHS) — Mattoon’s Mallory Ramage, who averaged 23.4 points and 7.3 rebounds a game last season for the Green Wave, was named Second-Team All-State. The 5-9 guard made 51.7 percent of her field goals and 32.1 percent of 3-point attempts. Plus, she averaged 2.3 steals and 2.4 assists.
Reagan McGahey, Ava Stephens, Ashlyn McPeak, & Karah Moore (CHS) — All four players finished with an On-Base Plus Slugging percentage over 1.000. McGahey and McPeak combined for 14 total home runs, while both McGahey and Stephens recorded RBI totals over 30. Moore, meanwhile, finished the season with an 18-1 record, 1.75 ERA, 108 strikeouts and a perfect game for a team that won the Apollo Conference and a Regional Championship.
Raven Morrison and Delainey Bryant (MHS) — Morrison helped the Green Wave go from pretenders to contenders in the Apollo Conference race. Morrison finished the year 7-2 with a 2.15 ERA for the conference runner-ups. Bryant led the team in batting average, hits, runs, doubles, and triples.
Kylie Haacke (MHS) — Haacke earned All-Apollo honors as the conference runner-up in cross country and a medal in the unofficial state cross country meet. In track, Haacke won the Apollo Conference title in the 3,200-meter run.
Callan Haldorsen (MHS) — Haldorsen was one of the most improved golfers in the area last year. She finished her prep golf career by earning All-Apollo honors, as well as placing second overall in the IHSA Regional girls tournament. At the Sectional, Haldorsen recorded the seventh-best individual score that would have qualified for state, if the IHSA had held a tournament.
Hannah Harpster and Stacey Zerbst (CHS) — Both Harpster and Zerbst finished All-Apollo during the golf season, as well as lead CHS to its eighth straight Regional Championship. At the Sectional, both finished in the top-20 as Charleston tied for second overall. Their place would have granted the team a state berth had there been a state championship.
Dakota Spencer (MHS) — Spencer was the only All-Apollo selection from the boy’s track team this past season. Spencer won the discus event and then launched a PR at the Sectional to qualify for the IHSA Class 2A state finals.
Aidan Blackburn (MHS) – Blackburn won the IWCOA Freshman-Sophomore state tournament this week, dominating a field of 50 wrestlers to go undefeated in five matches and become Mattoon’s first wrestling state champion.
Pierce Farmer and Josh Ramage (MHS) – These two tennis players lost only one set in winning the IHSA Class 1A sectional boys tennis tournament, which qualified them for the state meet.