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
Projected Team Scores (Simulation by Athletic.net)
- Mount Zion – 47
- Lincoln – 62
- Mahomet-Seymour – 73
- Taylorville – 76
- Effingham – 86
- Charleston – 169
- Mattoon – 229