By Kyle Daubs

It was a tough decision for Trent Hettinger during his freshman year.

Little did he know he would have to make the same decision for his senior year. 

Coming into high school, Hettinger was part of a stellar eighth-grade group that won a conference for Mattoon Middle School. The problem is that cross country is the same season as soccer, which is his true love. 

After COVID-19 pushed the fall soccer season to the fall, it allowed Hettinger, among others, to run cross country for the first time. Soccer, though, now returns to its normal slot, which forced Hettinger to make another tough decision. 

“Soccer has always been the main focus, and it will most likely be what I will do this year,” said Hettinger. “The thought of running cross country crossed my mind, but with (conflicting) schedules it would be very hard.”

Soccer coach Ryan Ghere is familiar with these tough choices. His oldest son, Jake, competed in both sports during his freshman year. 

“When I came in as a freshman, Coach Ghere talked about it with Brock (Davee), Quincy (Hamilton), and I just because of that reason,” said Hettinger. “We had a pretty good eighth-grade team that went to state and were conference champions. It was a dilemma, but it would have been a challenge to do both.”

Hettinger finished 10th last season at the Apollo Conference Championships, earning All-Apollo honors. Hettinger was a second-team All-Apollo selection in soccer last year. 

“All-Conference (in soccer) is the goal for sure,” said Hettinger. “Other than that, I just want to do whatever I can for the team. We want to take this team to the next level by competing in Regionals and werethe conference.”

Mattoon finished 4-4 in the Apollo Conference last year. Mattoon lost first-team All-Apollo selection Gavin Gonzalez and second-team selection Drew Coffey to graduation. 

Hettinger believes that Mattoon will reload and get back to its winning ways. Mattoon has seen three 20-win seasons in the last five years. 

“Losing Gavin (Gonzalez) and Drew (Coffey) is going to be a hit, but things like that are things that Mattoon has always recovered from,” said Hettinger. “My freshman year we had Jake Ghere, Alex Lensink, Devin Perry, and Reese Bergstrom. Those were some great players that carried us. When they graduate, you look to the next group. Guys like myself, Quincy (Hamilton), and Jared (Ruiz) have all stepped up and we will look to continue to try and take the team to the next level.”

Hettinger also looks to take more of a leadership role. 

“Coming into senior year, I will have a lot more of a leadership position,” said Hettinger. “I am looking forward to that, I like being able to coach the younger guys and talk to the freshmen. It’s not like cross country where you tell the guys to breathe more and keep your arms lower. Soccer is a lot more involved.”