Grace Nelson

Altamont’s Grace Nelson is the 2022 Effingham Daily News Female Athlete of the Year, or “Miss EDN.” Nelson is a two-sport athlete at Altamont, competing in basketball and track and field.

Grace Nelson adds one last honor to an accomplished-filled sophomore campaign.

The Altamont junior-to-be is the 2022 Effingham Daily News Female Athlete of the Year, or “Miss EDN.”

Nelson is a two-sport athlete for the Lady Indians, competing in basketball and track and field.

“That’s a cool honor after seeing the success on the track and the basketball court following your hard work.”

Nelson finished her sophomore season on the basketball court, averaging 28.8 points per game on 49.7 percent shooting from the floor and 30.3 percent shooting from 3-point range. She totaled 835 points for the season in 29 games while also leading the team in rebounds (234), assists (87), steals (141), and blocks (40).

Nelson was an Associated Press and an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-State First Team selection while also earning National Trail Conference First Team and Most Valuable Player honors.

Nelson was also the 2022 Effingham Daily News Girls Basketball Player of the Year, an All-Area First Team selection, and an All-Defense First Team selection.

As for track and field, Nelson finished the year with 31 victories in 35 events, highlighted by winning the Class 1A state championship in the 100-meter hurdles after carding a time of 14.19 seconds. It was her second state championship in two years.

Overall, when describing Nelson’s ability as a hurdler, her coach, Bobby Jelks, said she is one of the “toughest people” he’s coached.

“She wants it bad. Once [Grace] locks in, that’s it,” Jelks said. “The stuff that we’re witnessing; if she decided that I’m not going to do basketball as much and I’m going to focus on track when it’s track season, if she locked in like that, she would go even faster. I’m proud of Grace; Grace has proven a myth that kids from small schools can’t run with the large schools. We’ve had plenty of offers the first two years to come up to Chicago and run in 3A meets, but most of the time, she’s got a tournament that weekend, and that’s what people don’t understand; Grace is doing two sports at the same time. Sometimes, it comes off as track is just a hobby.”

Jelks — a former All-American track athlete at Nebraska — is not on the Altamont coaching staff but provides Nelson with important information during the school year that she can work on to improve.

He said that he mainly coaches her following her basketball season.

“Once basketball season is over, I pretty much have her,” Jelks said. “Every day, I send her and her father, Jared, all the workouts she needs to do. What happens with these workouts is that sometimes she’ll have basketball practice or something, but once those couple of tournaments are over, Grace locks in, and that’s when you start seeing the times drop because now she’s getting all those workouts in. Jared will videotape, or she’ll have a teammate videotape, or we’ll FaceTime, and I’ll see what’s going on. We exchange videos, and I coach her that way.

“This has been going on since she entered high school.”

Jelks coaches athletes out of his hometown of Decatur and said that he has been the guy “behind the scenes” for the last two years.

When it comes to Nelson, Jelks said that he’s very upfront and honest with her when discussing what she is bound to go through at the next level, where Nelson aspires to be once her prep career ends.

“I tell her everything. I tell her how tough it will be and what to look out for,” Jelks said. “She deals with some things I didn’t have to deal with; she’s big time, and everyone wants to be around her, but everyone’s been really good about when it’s time for us to start, that’s it. She’s receptive to everything I tell her.

“She’s a great one.”

Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 618-510-9231 or

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