It’s been about 30 years but Jim Miller remembers it like it was yesterday. 

Miller might be the first-year head coach for the Mattoon cross country program; however, he remembers running down Broadway Avenue in the late 80s and early 90s. The Mattoon Cross Country Invitational was brought back and ran down the main road in Mattoon near the train station and on the parade route that gathers hundreds during the summer. 

Given the layout of the course, Miller can’t wait to see what his team does. 

“I have been in this race two other times with the Cumberland County teams,” said Miller. “And in the later years late 80s and early 90s we raced down Broadway on Saturdays when there were several northern teams involved. The kids are looking forward to it and their 1st mile may be the fastest split they get all year due to it being slightly downhill.”

Both of Mattoon’s teams are rebuilding. The boys are projected last in the team scores, while the girls are second from the bottom. Both teams have battled youth and injuries this season. 

Oaklie Layton leads the girls with a time of 22:24.8. Last year’s sectional qualifier Halle Perry owns a PR of 26:17, which is down from years past. The rest of the team features Alaina Hedges (23:27.4), Brie Armstrong (24:15.9), Symphany Allen (25:26.6), Imani McGee (29:31.2), and Logan Crist (30:17.4). 

The boys will be led by Beau Farris’ time of 22:22.3. He is followed by Lucas Butler (24:41.3), Ethan Janes (25:02.8), Javary Davis (28:51.0), and Lincoln Wheeler (30.04.7). All five boys are freshmen. 

“We are getting better each race,” said Miller. “Being this young, we are learning and progressing on each course. Definitely a learning process. Not only in races, but understanding why we do things we do in practice to get better. Some of these kids are some of the first times they have ever raced competitively. We are always working to get better. We are seeing signs that we are coming a bit together as a team.”

Charleston’s girls are projected seventh as a team. The team has been relying on some other names as one of their top runners was ruled out for the rest of the season. Hadley Webb was diagnosed with a stress reaction (near break) in her femur. Senior Malia Hodges sustained a foot injury in the first meet of the season and has not run since. 

Ila Richter and Whitley Wood have been running well this season. Richter owns a personal best of 21:20.7, while Wood has run a 21:58.0. Emma Karbassioon (24:10.1), Amber Weiss (24:38.0), Jordyn Keifer (25:17.5), and Grace Edwards (26:44.8) round out the rest of the team.

“The rest of the team has been progressing nicely with multiple new PRs and season bests in each meet,” said Charleston girls coach Chris Hawk. “As we have talked about in practice, however, we have a long way to go to meet our end-of-the-season goals. The Broadway Bolt meet in Mattoly lends itself to fast times.  First off, I would love to see 12 CHS girls running for the first time this season, and then to see some big improvements across the board from our team.  I’m hoping that we will be able to use this meet to give us some momentum as we head into the remainder of the season. 

The Charleston boys are projected 11th in the meet standings. Blake Homann leads the team with a time of 17:53.7 with Luke Brewer (18:34.2) right behind him. Noah Hardwick (20:04.8), Dylan Hawk (20:23.1), Stanley Himes (21:08), Jonathan Brown (21:18.5), and Tyler Hodges (21:23.1) round out the rest of the team. 

“We have been doing a great job of setting PRs each race,” said Charleston boys coach Brian Deadmond. “We have seen great improvement for each runner.”

Rounding Out The Rest

On the boys’ side, Taylorville is projected as the favorite to win the team title at 67 points. Newton is right behind at 75 points and Mount Zion is in the mix with 85 points. Julian Baker of Mount Zion owns the top seed time with 15:25.2. He will be challenged by Owen Morgan of Taylorville with a time of 15:43.7. Every other runner is in the 16s. 

For the girls, Mount Zion is the heavy favorite with 47 points, while Marshall is right behind with 59 points. Effingham comes into the top 3 with 73 points. The favorite to win the individual title is freshman Molly Farrell, who owns a time of 18:08.7, while teammate Brooklyn Gender owns a time of 18:20.9. Sofia Munoz of Mount Zion could be in the mix. She owns a season-best of 18:43.9. 

All projections are based on the simulations of Athletic.net. 

Meet Information

Location: The race will run down Broadway Avenue in downtown Mattoon. The road race will start on the bridge above the railroad tracks. The race will conclude at the pavilion in Peterson Park. Streets 19th through 12th will be blocked off for warmups. 

Awards: Medals will be awarded 1st through 75th in the varsity race. There will bfirst-placelace trophy for the team that wins. Top-10 runners will be presented at the Amphitheater at the park. 

Lane Assignments/Teams

  1. Newton
  2. MacArthur
  3. Rantoul
  4. Taylorville
  5. Mattoon
  6. St. Anthony
  7. T-Town
  8. Robinson
  9. Charleston
  10. Lawrenceville
  11. Mt. Zion
  12. Casey-Westfield
  13. Cumberland
  14. Marshall
  15. Tri-County
  16. Effingham
  17. Eisenhower
  18. Shiloh
  19. Paris
  20. Flora