MATTOON -- Logan Hall of Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond defended his title in what is now the Cumberland County Invite Saturday at Lake Land College winning by 30.81 seconds over Freeburg's Charlie Parrish. Hall ran the course in 15:48.64 on a day with winds blowing at 19 miles an hour and higher with gusts. The race started against the strong wind, but finished with it. 

"It was a tough start," said Hall, who set the meet record last year with a time of 14:58 on the three-mile course. "The wind was just like a slap in the face. You use your arms more and put your head down a little bit and push through. There is not much you can do about it. It is not like you can all of the sudden stop the wind. It is a part of running."

Hall led Parrish by 20 meters at about the halfway mark.

"I just tried to stay consistent throughout the race," said Hall, who runs before and after the race with the length depending on how big the race was. 

The meet had been the Cumberland Invite for the 46 previous years, but this year Neoga/Stewardson-Strasburg joined to make it the Cumberland County Invite. 

"Jim Miller (Cumberland coach) approached me last year and asked me what I thought about being a co-host," said Neoga/S-S coach Tim Mueller. "We talked it over and thought we could handle it. Today was smooth with no issues and we have been getting positive feedback from other coaches. I can only see it getting bigger from here on out."

On the team side St. Joseph-Ogden won the boys' side by 18 points over Freeburg with 70 points in the 17-team, 132 runners meet. Cumberland was the top area finisher at fifth with 139, while Mattoon was 10th with 262 points and Neoga/Stew-Stras 15th with 390.  It was the second straight title for the Spartans. 

Hall ran the race with a pinched nerve in his neck. 

"I thought it would hurt during the race, but it didn't at all," said Hall. "I guess it was just the adrenaline rush that took the pain away. It is something I woke up with and it doesn't bother me."

The top 10 received a t-shirt and the top 75 received a medal. 

Cumberland's Kort McClellan finished fourth in 16:45.68, while A-L-A-H's Layton Hall was fifth (16:46.59) and Mattoon's Mitchell Kremer was seventh (16:51.87). 

"I thought it was a really good race for Kort," said Miller. "We talked to him all week about not being complacent finishing in the in top 10 and to shoot for the top five. He really stepped up today."

Mattoon coach Troy Haacke said, "Mitchell ran an outstanding race and Henry Skocy (18:35.32) did also and Aaron (Emmerich) is coming along."

Beating 88 other runners in the girls race was Tolono Unity's Jordan Harmon with a time of 18:50.65, which was 18.28 seconds faster than her teammate Caroline Bachert. 

The top area runner was Cumberland freshman Jasmyn Dittamore, who finished seventh with a time of 19:49.81. 

Mattoon placed fourth with 112 points  and Cumberland sixth with 192 in the 12-team meet that was won by Unity with 28 points. 

"Kylie (Haacke) and Quincy Collings did a great job up front and then the next three (Mickenze Schofield, Caley Lane and Delaney Kimberlin) did a really job packing together," said coach Haacke. "I think that helps to bring teammates along like that. The wind made it a little factor, but overall the times were not too bad."

Kyle Haacke was 14th (290:29.92), Collings 15th (21:00.40), while Scholfield, Lane and Kimerlin finished 21, 27 and 39th respectively. 

"Jasmyn Dittamore ran a solid race," said Miller. "She didn't like her time at all, but I think all of the times were a little slower because of the strong wind. Victoria Ault ran a solid race again also (22:14.92, good for 33rd)."

Dittamore said, "I have never run against winds like that. I tried to stay at six minute miles and I am  happy with seventh place."

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Mike Monahan covers area sports for the JG-TC.

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