By Mike Monahan
OLNEY – The Mattoon boys and girls teams stood, waiting to hear from coach Troy Haacke how they had done in Saturday’s IHSA Class 2A regional cross country meet.
The knew Brock Davee had won the individual boys title in the three-mile race across Olney Central College.
But they did not know much more.
Until coach Haacke said that sophomore Hallee Perry was one of the first five individual runners not on an advancing team, which meant she would advance to next Saturday’s sectional meet as well.
“I didn’t have any idea,” said Perry. “I was very surprised. I just came out and told myself I had to run as fast as I could and I did it and it paid off for me. I like to get out fast so I can run my pace later. I want to find my pack and I used (teammate) Oaklie Layton, and we helped each other.”
Perry’s time was a personal-best 21 minutes, 34.7 seconds, which was 26th overall and fourth among the top five individuals to advance to the Decatur MacArthur Sectional at Hickory Point Golf Course.
The Charleston girls also advanced after taking sixth, just six points better than seventh-place Olney thanks to both junior Whitley Wood’s 20th place finish in 21:04.94 and the performance of its underclassmen.
The Mattoon boys also qualified by taking sixth.
Davee rallies in final 500 yards
As Davee, a senior, crossed the finish line in 15:29.71, he held up his fingers in the form of a G.
“Me and a few buddies came up with it,” Davee said. “I was holding up my fingers in the shape of a ‘G’ for Green Wave.”
Davee, who is ranked No. 5 in the state, according to www.athletic.net, led at the start and increased his lead halfway through the race through the woods, which were muddy and sticky from rain.
Scheele surged with about 600 meters to go, pulling ahead by as much as 30 meters. But Brock surged back and was able to pass Scheele across the final 200 meters.
“He (Scheele) put a little bit of a gap on me (in the last quarter mile). I saw he wasn’t really gaining any more ground on me with about 500 meters to go. I knew I could outkick him, if it came down to it, and I had it in the back of my head. On the downhill with about 400 (yards) to go, I started kicking it in and started to gain on him and gain on him. Finally, with about 100 meters to go, I finally got past him and powered it home. It felt amazing to pass on him. I finally won the regional, and it feels great.”
It wasn’t exactly the race Davee had wanted to run.
“I didn’t want to go out as hard as I did,” said Davee, who ran a 4:50 first mile. “I kept going and then the goal was to surge about halfway through and put a little gap on them and so it worked out perfectly after that.”
This was his fifth race title this season.
Huge drop in times propel Mattoon boys
The temperature and weather conditions overall were quite different than the last time Mattoon had run in the Olney Invitational on Sept. 18 when temperatures were near 90 degrees. On Saturday, temperatures were in the 50s.
“I love this team,” said Davee. “The team is so much fun to be around. We have a lot of fun at practices and so it is awesome to have everyone around for at least another week.”
Other Mattoon times were 16:53.95 by Ferrar, good for 13th overall – and 37 seconds faster than his time at the Olney Invite. Smith, meanwhile, ran an 18:08.40, Armstrong 18:36, Fogerty 19:35.78, Hudson 19:55.85, and Bridges a 22:08.53 –– 5:02 better than his time at the invite six weeks ago. Ferrar will compete in his fourth consecutive sectional.
“Consistently, across the board we had huge drops in times,” said Haacke. “The weather was one of the reasons. It is not a super easy course. There are hills and you run through the woods and you have to watch your footing for roots and stuff. To advance (for a third straight year) means a lot. We just tied with Effingham Saturday (in the St. Anthony Bulldog Classic) and we knew they would be a contender along with Olney and Champaign Central, and Rantoul ended up being a contender. We knew we had some work to do. It took every kid to help us advance, and we only made it by five points.”
Charleston girls qualify for sectionals
The Trojans girls beat Olney by six points to advance, powered by its underclassmen. Only one senior finished among its top five scoring runners – Lilly Long, who took 30th in 21:04.94 for the team’s second best time after Wood.
Wood posted a personal best across the grassy, and sometimes muddy, course.
Junior Ila Richter finished 1.76 seconds after Richter for 32nd – followed by freshmen Amber Weiss (33, 22:15.21) and Hadley Webb (38, 22:37.02).
Said Wood: “You have to kind of push through the grass.”
Other CHS girls results: Sophie Kattenbraker (49, 23:39.39), Casey Fisher (56, 24:07.51) and Malia Hodges (61, 30:05.63).
Wood prefers to start fast and then slows a little for the middle mile before kicking it in for mile 3. “At the end, I pick people off,” Wood said. “That is what motivated me to run faster. When I do pick people off, it feels pretty good.”
Wood, though, almost got picked off herself by Mahomet-Seymour’s Delany King – holding King off for a three-second margin.
“King was behind me, and I was supposed to be ahead of her to get the position that I wanted,” said Wood. “I was hoping she would not get me at the end and so I had to pick it up and I got her at the end. I am super excited we are going as a team. We were all nervous coming into it. We were projected to go, but it just depended on whoever had a good race.”
Mattoon girls posted some PRs
Perry eclipsed her season best three-mile time by 35 seconds – and improved by nearly four minutes from her time of 25:28.94 over this course back in September.
“It means a lot to me,” Monahan said. “I didn’t train much over the summer and wasn’t expecting a lot. I have worked my butt off a lot, and it (advancing to the sectional) shows that I can go a lot farther than I thought I could if I just put my mind to it.”
“She ran her best race and did what she had to do,” Haacke said.”She has great foot speed and she used that at the end.”
But Haacke was pleased with those who did compete.
“A couple of girls, I think, had some season bests,” he said. “In general, I think they ran and competed really well.”
The Green Wave girls did not have enough runners to earn a chance to advance as a team.
Other Mattoon results: Oakley Layton (31st, 21:48.74), Zeeland Sanders (54, 24:05.06), Bri Armstrong (58, 24.40.51)
“The girls felt like the first mile was a pretty fast pace and then they got into the woods about the first mile, and it is kind of uphill into the woods,” Haacke said. “I think they were feeling it there with the faster pace, but it seemed like, after that, we moved up.”
Carcasi just misses sectional berth
Luca Carcasi recorded the CHS boys’ best performance, passing six runners across the final half-mile and finishing 26th in 17:23.46.
But he missed out when Olney over-performed by taking fifth place and Effingham did not qualify for sectionals, as projected. As a result, three Effingham runners finished ahead of the Trojans senior, bumping him from a sectional berth.
“His time on this course, with some hills and stuff and so it is not as flat as other courses,” CHS boys coach Greg Rogers said. “It was around a season-best time, if you do a conversion.”
Blake Homann (40th, 18:02.12), Mason Reely (50,18:47.66) and Austin Sikorski (54, 18:56.32) each ran a personal-best. Plus, Dylan Hawk and Nicholas Hawk had times of 21:37.11 and 24:34.51 respectively.
“I think all of our boys ran with heart today,” said Rogers. “I think they all should be proud of how they finished off the season. We are mostly a senior team, who have run for six years as they kind of started the middle school program. They poured six years of their lives into this and it is a great way to end their cross country careers. “
Boys: 1. Mahomet 47, 2. Champaign Central 81, 3. Urbana 86, 4. Mt. Vernon 105, 5. Olney 152, 6. Mattoon 161, 7. Rantoul 166, 8. Effingham 169, 9. Champaign Centennial 173, 10. Charleston 232
Girls: 1. Mahomet 44, 2. Champaign Central 76, 3. Champaign Centennial 92, 4. Effingham 103, 5. Urbana 115, 6. Charleston 141, 7. Olney 147, 8. Mt. Vernon 165
TOP 10 BOYS
|10.||10||Trey Mygatt||16:43.05||Mt Vernon|
TOP 10 GIRLS