Schlarman Academy’s Jesse Hahne and Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac’s Jon Davis have led the way on the Vermilion Valley cross country circuit all season long. It’s only fitting that they will be the two representing the conference in the IHSA State Meet in Peoria next weekend.
They both advanced at the Class 1A Sectional hosted by St. Anthony in Effingham held at Mid-America Motorworks. Hahne placed second in the boy’s race, finishing with a time of 15 minutes, 33 seconds while Davis placed 13th at 16:08.
Hahne spent most of the race in a battle with Nick Hess from St. Thomas More to see who was going to come in second and third. Neither of them were ever close to Sectional champion Jake Brown of Mount Zion, who finished 20 seconds in front of both Hahne and Hess.
“We switched places on and off throughout the race,” said Hahne. “He was using me a lot to shield the wind so I was expecting him to have more at the end.”
The neck-and-neck race came down to the last 200 meter stretch — where the two rotated places three times before crossing the line with Hahne winning out.
Hess took first place in the PBL Regional last weekend, beating Hahne by 13 seconds. This time the Hilltopper senior was ready for a fight.
“I was pretty mad that he beat me last week. so I really wanted it today,” Hahne said.
Davis, a freshman for OAP, sat in the secondary pack for most of the race and managed to pick up a couple places at the end to secure a spot in the state meet. He finished 13th and was fifth among the individual qualifiers.
The location for the meet wasn’t a typical cross country course. It was held on the grounds of a privately-owned facility that normally houses car shows and similar events but on Saturday it played host to over 300 high school runners from across central Illinois trying to advance on to state.
Hahne and Davis had mixed feelings about the course.
“I liked the course,” said Hahne. “It was really flat and the wind was a little bit of the problem but everyone had it, so it wasn’t an excuse.”
“There are a lot of people that are bigger and thicker that can take the wind easier than I do,” Davis said. “I didn’t really like the track being totally flat.”
Despite the circumstances, both qualifiers finished with season best times.
As a senior, it is the second time Hahne will be competing at Peoria’s Detweiller Park.
“It’s meant a lot to me to make it the last couple of years,” he said. “I cherish it every time.”
For the freshman Davis, it will be his first time at the IHSA State Meet and he’s excited to see what it’s all about.
“I plan to work hard through practice and hopefully get some of my teammates out there to help me,” Davis said.
The Comets finished in 13th place as a group with Emerson Grey being their second-fastest runner. He finished the race in 39th place with a time of 17:00.
Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman’s Wyatt Avenatti finished 57th at 17:18 and Hoopeston Area’s Josh Johnson came in 84th at 17:51.
In the girls race, Hoopeston Area came in 20th as a group. Madie Brown was the fastest at 21:02. She placed 49th.
Schlarman Academy came in 22nd.