Everyone has their eyes on Mount Zion and Mahomet-Seymour but no love is going out to Lincoln. One cannot count out Taylorville either, who has been coming around as of late. The Apollo title will feature a great race for the individual title as it appears this is a wide-open race for the boys’ title, which is quite the change after the Bulldogs dominated the conference the last few years. 

Effingham coach Jennifer Kirk and Mahomet-Seymour’s Andrew Walmer both see the Braves as the favorite to win the title, which would echo what the simulated team scores say from Athletic.net. On paper, the Braves are a 15-point favorite over Lincoln with a projected team score of 47. 

The Braves are led by Julian Baker, who owns an individual title at the Charleston Invitational, Decatur Invite, and Mattoon Invite. As of recent, Baker placed fifth at the illustrious Peoria High Invitational and ran a time of 14:59.6 on the home course of the state championships. 

Lincoln’s Brenden Heitzig will be in the mix for the Apollo title as his time of 14:59.4 is just ahead of Baker, but he has not run a faster time since September 3. This time was ran at the Rochester Invitational. Teammate Jake Bivin is in the mix for the top 3 with his season-best time of 15:35. 

“Mt. Zion looks to be in good shape,” said Walmer. “Lincoln will also be tough to beat. We hope to also be in the mix for the win.”

Mattoon’s Jim Miller believes that Mahomet-Seymour has the firepower to claim the conference title. Freshman Augustus Gaudio owns a team-best time of 15:57.9. Ben Wallace is ranked 13th on paper, but is a returning All-Apollo runner from last season. On paper, five of the team’s runner is ranked in the top 20, while Mount Zion’s top-five runners are ranked in the top 15. 

With cross country, a matter of 20 seconds could be made up on any given night. 

“Auggie Gaudio has been running well and should have a realistic shot at the top 10,” said Walmer. “Ben Wallace also should have a good chance, being a returning All-Apollo runner.”

Taylorville will be led by Owen Morgan, who is ranked fourth with a time of 15:43.7. Will Turvey will be in the mix for All-Apollo as his time of 16:36 is ranked ninth. 

Effingham’s Andrew Donaldson and Garrett Wagoner are in a position to contend for All-Apollo. Both are ranked seventh (15:58.3) and eighth (16:01.8) respectively. The team is ranked fifth on paper. 

Rounding out the rest of the conference is Charleston projected at sixth and Mattoon projected at seventh. Charleston’s Blake Homann is ranked 28th with a time of 17:32.9. Mattoon’s Beau Farris is the top-ranked time for the Green Wave at 22:22.3. 

Top 30 Times according to Athletic.Net

1.12Brenden Heitzig14:59.4PR   ILLincoln   Sep 3Rochester XC Invitational
2.11Julian Baker14:59.6PR   ILMt. Zion   Oct 1Peoria High School Invitational
3.12Jake Bivin15:35.0PR   ILLincoln   Sep 3Rochester XC Invitational
4.11Owen Morgan15:43.7PR   ILTaylorville   Sep 3Rochester XC Invitational
5.10Daniel Grauer15:48.4PR   ILMt. Zion   Oct 1Peoria High School Invitational
6.9Augustus Gaudio15:57.9PR   ILMahomet (M.-Seymour)   Sep 17Richard Spring Invitational
7.12Andrew Donaldson15:58.3SR   ILEffingham   Sep 21Mattoon Cross Country Invitational
8.12Garrett Wagoner16:01.8PR   ILEffingham   Sep 21Mattoon Cross Country Invitational
9.12Will Turvey16:36.1SR   ILTaylorville   Sep 3Rochester XC Invitational
10.11Luke Jones16:42.6PR   ILLincoln   Sep 3Rochester XC Invitational
11.10Lyncoln Koester16:47.3SR   ILMt. Zion   Sep 10First to the Finish Invitational
12.9Alex Gordon16:48.7PR   ILEffingham   Sep 10First to the Finish Invitational
13.12Ben Wallace16:50.3SR   ILMahomet (M.-Seymour)   Sep 3Charleston XC Invitational
14.12Sam Atkinson16:53.1PR   ILMt. Zion   Oct 1Peoria High School Invitational
15.9Mark Mavis16:54.7PR   ILMt. Zion   Oct 1Peoria High School Invitational
16.9Henry McMurry16:58.8PR   ILMahomet (M.-Seymour)   Sep 17Richard Spring Invitational
17.10Jude Toft16:59.5PR   ILLincoln   Sep 3Rochester XC Invitational
18.10Blake Dillman17:03.0PR   ILMahomet (M.-Seymour)   Sep 3Charleston XC Invitational
19.11Jesse Sloan17:04.5SR   ILTaylorville   Sep 21Mattoon Cross Country Invitational
20.10Lukas Nykaza17:05.9PR   ILMahomet (M.-Seymour)   Sep 24East Peoria XC Invitational
21.11Jack Chesser17:10.0SR   ILTaylorville   Sep 15Decatur Invite
22.9Emmett Kearns17:15.8PR   ILMahomet (M.-Seymour)   Sep 3Charleston XC Invitational
23.11Brenton Good17:19.4PR   ILTaylorville   Sep 21Mattoon Cross Country Invitational
24.11Isaac Carpenter17:26.9PR   ILMt. Zion   Oct 1Peoria High School Invitational
25.10Kaleb Kasper17:29.8PR   ILMahomet (M.-Seymour)   Sep 17Richard Spring Invitational
26.12Hayden Groteluesche…17:30.0SR   ILMahomet (M.-Seymour)   Sep 17Richard Spring Invitational
27.10Adam Flack17:31.7SR   ILEffingham   Sep 21Mattoon Cross Country Invitational
28.10Blake Homann17:32.9PR   ILCharleston   Oct 1Peoria High School Invitational
29.11Grant Smysor17:37.8PR   ILMahomet (M.-Seymour)   Sep 17Richard Spring Invitational
30.11Lukas Carey17:46.9PR   ILMahomet (M.-Seymour)   Sep 3Charleston XC Invitational

Projected Team Scores (Simulation by Athletic.net)

  1. Mount Zion – 47
  2. Lincoln – 62
  3. Mahomet-Seymour – 73
  4. Taylorville – 76
  5. Effingham – 86
  6. Charleston – 169
  7. Mattoon – 229