By Mike Monahan
“I think it is a nice fast course for a couple of reasons,” said Charleston girls coach Chris Hawk. “Number one, it is a hard flat surface with no tall grass or anything like that and, number two, it is downhill about two-thirds of the race.”
On Wednesday, there was a third reason – a strong tailwind.
Richter posted the best finish among local runners competing in the boys and girls races.
“My first mile was a lot faster than normal, I felt like,” Richter said. “.But I think because it was downhill. I was trying to push it because of that, which I wanted to take advantage of.”
Teammate Whitley Wood trailed by only a few seconds, taking 11th in 20:25.0.
“Richter has led us in most of the meets this season,” said Hawk. “Wood was our number one last year, and she has been right behind her this year. They both had season-best performances today. They are where we want them to be. We are trying to bring the rest of the group up to those two, and we saw some good improvements pretty much across the board.”
Hawk said Richter was injured at the beginning of last season. “She is back at 100 percent,” he said, “and it is nice to see her hitting some overall times.”
Oaklie Layton, meanwhile, posted Mattoon girls’ best finish – 27th in 21:39.4.
“We had girls step up today,” said first-year Mattoon coach Jim Miller. “We finished eighth out of 10 scoring teams and 19 that were here. That is a big step. We are making steps all of the time. We are really pleased. All you can do when you have young talent is work a week at a time and hope for improvement every time you step out there.”
The event was hosted by Mattoon High School and the top 75 in each race received a medal, while the top 10 runners were presented at the awards ceremony.
The overall female winner was Isabel Arthur of Marshall with a time of 18:09.1, while team winner was Marshall with 48. Charleston was sixth with 163 points and Mattoon finished eighth with 208. Marshall had the top three finishers.
Winning the boys was Julian Baker of Mt. Zion with a time of 15:27.2, which was 4.9 seconds faster than second-place Cale Smith of Decatur Eisenhower/MacArthur.
The top team was Newton with a 62, while Charleston had 271 points for 11th place and Mattoon didn’t have enough participants to qualify as a team.
“We only had four boys today,” said Miller. “Two were in band and were worried about the Homecoming parade, and that is fine. It was a good day. It is always a good day when you host. You always want to run better in front of all the locals that are watching. We were worried about the heat as Tuesday was just awful. Today, we had a little cloud cover and the humidity and temperature dropped a little.”
Mattoon was led by Beau Ferris with a time of 22:43.3.
Sophomore Blake Hoffman, who finished 28th in 17:43.6, led CHS.
“He ran really well today,” said coach Brian Deadman. “I was super impressed. He is getting better and better every single race and that is nice to see.”
Deadman said he wanted this runners to take advantage of the tailwind and push hard during the first mile. “We had some decent first miles, especially some of our younger kids,” he said. “It was probably their best first mile and that was good to see. Several of the younger boys ran some good times and set season-best marks and that was awesome. Overall, I thought we had a great race. We are still young with lots of freshmen and sophomores. We are just getting better every race. Every week, I have been seeing better times. That is the plan and that is the goal.”
Hoffman said he didn’t notice the wind at the end.
“I like the downhill but it was hot today, which made it tough,” said Hoffman. “I liked it last year when it wasn’t so hot.”
Miller remembers the course, billed in the 1970s as “The Nation’s Greatest Interscholastic Running Spectacle.”
“I remember we ran by a donut shot, where Brian’s Place is now and finished in the ball diamond (Grimes Field at Peterson Park),” said Miller. “It was different then as a lot of the Chicago schools were here then.”
Boys Top team scores: 1. Newton 62; 2. Effingham 82; 3. Taylorville 87; 4. Mt. Zion 111; 5. Effingham St. Anthony 117; 6. Robinson 163; 7. Decatur Eisenhower/MacArthur Co-op) 195; 8. Marshall 198; 9. Rantoul 210; 10. Cumberland 240; 11. Charleston 271
Charleston finishers: 28. Blake Hoffman 17:43.6; 40. Luke Brewer 18:45; 63. Dylan Hawk 20:42; 69. Tyler Hodges 21:04.2; 71. Stanley Himes 21:28.5; 72. Noah Hardwick 21:28.; 75. ; Jonathan Brown 22:17.1 118. Rohen Walters 23:48.4; 121. Conyers White 24:11.4; 122 Owen Wardrip 24:36.3; 123. Hayden Bradford 24:50.3;130. Carson Hayes 26:23.9; 134. Brady Henshwaw 29:27.1
Mattoon finishers: 113. Beau Farris 22:43.3; 124; Ethan Janes 24: 57.1; 131. Lucas Butler 26:40.2; 133. Javary Davis 28:10.0
Girls team scores: 1. Marshall 48; 2. Mount Zion 67; 3. Robinson 68; 4. Effingham 90; 5. Newton 140; 6. Charleston 163; 7. Taylorville 170; 8. Mattoon 208; 9. Effingham St. Anthony 210; Neoga 251
Charleston finishers: 10: Illa Richter 20:13.8; 11. Whitley Wood 20:25; 52. Amber Weiss 23:41.7; 54. Emma Karbassion 23:46.3; 60; Jordyn Kieffer 24:22.3; 77. Libby Weiss 26:07.6; 79. Malia Hodges 26:47.7 85. Annabel Wehrle 27:48.4; 90 Josie Wherle 28:52.9;94. Courtney Villalobos 29:22.3; 100. Ruthie Okrasinski 30:33.1
Mattoon finishers: 27. Oaklie Layton 21:39.4; 42. Alania Hedges 22:51.8; 45. Brie Armstrong 23:06.9: 65. Hallee Perry 24:42.3; 72. Symphany Allen 25:09.6; 98. Imani McGee 29:50.0; 99. Logan Crist 30:24.1