With a little bit of sunshine, there comes an opportunity. 

Both the Mattoon and Charleston High School track teams are ready for the outdoor season despite what looks like another week of rainy and cold weather. Both teams are coming off representation from the indoor state season and are ready to see if the same, and others, can make a run towards the outdoor state. 

Both the Mattoon boys and girls begin their outdoor season today at the Greenville Invitational.

“We are excited to start the outdoor season, hoping for some nicer weather so we can get some work done,” said Mattoon girls track coach Troy Haacke. “I have learned a lot about this team, the one thing that stands out is we are young but we have some competitors. They push through the pain and fight to the end of their race.  We are going to improve as we get in better shape and have more meets. It’s amazing how much the girls improve from year to year, the experience we gained last year has already shined through. And the experience we gained this year during the indoor season will carry over to the outdoor season.”

Maya Cook and Ryleigh Grayson both represented Mattoon at the indoor state. Cook finished fifth in the shot put to finish All-State. Moving forward, it will be about taking the next step for a team that is made up of 24 underclassmen. 

“I was satisfied with the indoor season,” said Haacke. “We qualified two girls for the indoor state. Our girls set many PRS, getting better each meet, and won the hearts that we were placed in. I enjoy the indoor season because it gives us a chance to practice field events and compete and get in shape in the running events.”

The Mattoon boys saw their 4×800-meter relay just miss All-State status. The combination of Jackson Whalin, Brock Davee, Sam Ferrar, and Quincy Hamilton was just a second away from eighth place, while Davee individually qualified in the mile. Plus, thrower Sam Bradbury nearly qualified in the shot put. 

“I was fairly satisfied with our indoor season,” said Mattoon boys coach Jarad Kimbro. “We went out and competed well and put ourselves in a good spot heading outdoors.  I was hoping that Sam Bradbury would qualify for indoor state but unfortunately, he came up just a little short he is progressing very well in the shot and should be a contender to make it to the state meet in May.  We are very excited about getting outside Saturday at Greenville and seeing where we stand against some solid competition.”

Kimbro knew his distance crew was strong but said that the other events he had question marks before the season are progressing along. 

“What stands out to me most is how well we competed at the meets we were in,” said Kimbro. “With things starting to get back to normal I have picked up about 20 more kids than I had last year so I have a good group to work with. The sprinters have been a pleasant surprise so far this year. I have a good mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen to choose from to make us competitive in meets. I am also pleasantly surprised with how the field events are coming along.  We have a solid group of jumpers that are going to continue to get better each meet. We also have several throwers that will be competing with each other to see who goes to what meets. The distance crew was the strength of our team last year and I anticipate them to continue and lead the team from the front.  Their work ethic and commitment will make them successful this season.”

Charleston, meanwhile, will begin its outdoor season at the Teutopolis High School Invite. Charleston’s Wyatt Strader and Makenna McBride were each indoor state qualifiers.

Strader finished fourth in the long jump to end indoor season All-State and will now begin a bid towards preparing to defend his Apollo Conference title in the long jump.

“Compared to where last season started, he is several steps above that and consistently has jumped over 20 feet,” said Charleston boys coach Josh Stice. “We are very optimistic going into the outdoor season and making a strong push for the state meet at EIU.”

McBride nearly made All-State status in the 100-meter dash. She also ran the 200-meter dash.

“Makenna has been working hard to prepare for a great senior track season,” said CHS girls coach Chris Hawk. “It’s nice to see that hard work pays off with the times she is running early on. Right now, we are just looking to see her continue to improve in the sprints to make it back to the outdoor state.”