The Charleston High girls entered last season with numerous challenges. Besides losing two All-Apollo cross country runners to graduation, its two key returning runners were recovering from surgery.

As a result, the team rarely had a full complement of healthy runners.

But the team appears stronger this season.

Senior Ila Richter, who had fought off pain after knee surgery, has been healthy.

Sophomore Hadley Webb, hampered by injuries last season after surgery, has been the strongest runner this summer, according to CHS coach Chris Hawk. The former middle school state qualifier, though, may need a little more time to recover fully.

“Hadley was limited last year due to knee surgery in the offseason,” Hawk said. “She is still working through some lingering effects that will keep her out early this season, but she has been our strongest runner this summer.” 

Senior Whitley Wood, meanwhile, emerged as the team’s top runner last season, consistently posting times around 21 minutes that included a person-best time of 20:15 for three miles at the Decatur Quad meet.

While CHS finished next-to-last in the Apollo Conference meet, the Trojans still qualified for a ninth straight IHSA Sectional after taking sixth in a regional meet held at Olney Community College – just six points better than Olney for the final spot. Wood clocked in at 21:04.94 across the grassy, muddy course while senior Lilly Long finished 30th in 21:47.10. Richter (21:48.86, 32nd), Amber Weiss (22:15.21, 33rd) and Webb (22:37.02, 38th) followed close behind.

“I think our team has certainly grown,” Wood says. “We have two of our girls completely rid of their injuries from last year. We have an incoming freshman that has shown lots of potential already. Our team is looking great so far.”

Emma Karbassioon has also been running really well during the summer, Hawk said. “She looks to be a solid member of our varsity team.”

Hawk believes the team can push toward the top of the conference, if it remains healthy.

Mt. Zion and Mahomet-Seymour return runners who posted seven of the top nine times in last year’s conference meet, making them heavy favorites. Mt. Zion edged Mahomet by one point with 38 total for the team title. CHS, relying on some injured runners, was able to remain relatively close to Lincoln, Effingham and Taylorville in the meet.

“I expect to see Mt. Zion, Mahomet, and Effingham with strong teams again this year.  Returning most of our top seven from last year, I hope that we can continue to improve throughout the season and end up competing for one of those top spots in the conference.”

Hawk said he also likes his team’s chances of advancing to sectionals again. “We are going to work hard to put ourselves in position to make it through to State,” he said, “if a few things go our way.”

PRs for returning varsity

Ila RichterSenior19:50
Whitley WoodSenior20:15
Amber WeissSophomore22:15
Jordyn KiefferSenior22:16
Hadley WebbSophomore22:37

CHS boys has lost both its top runner and its coach. Luca Carcasi graduated after finishing 22nd in the Apollo meet and Greg Rogers departed for a job opportunity in Bloomington.

The team also lost four other seniors – Mason Reeley, Austin Sikorski, Ashton Fifield and Nicholas Hawk.

Luke Brewer, who qualified for state while at Shelbyville last season, bolsters a squad that finished last in the Apollo last season. Sophomore Blake Homann, who placed 34th in the Apollo, figures to be another top runner.

“We are a very young team with no seniors this year (as of now),” said new CHS coach Brian Deadmond. “Blake Homan and Dylan Hawk ran well last year and all summer. Luke Brewer ran at the state meet last year for Shelbyville. These three are great leaders and will do a great job of pushing the younger boys.”

CHS Girls Roster

Annabel WehrleSenior
Ila RichterSenior
Jordyn KiefferSenior
Malia HodgesSenior
Whitley WoodSenior
Amber WeissSophomore
Courtney VillalobosSophomore
Grace EdwardsSophomore
Hadley WebbSophomore
Josie WehrleSophomore
Emma KarbassioonFreshman
Libby WeissFreshman
Mia TribbleFreshman