Grant County Recap: Gonzales Breaks Record/Holtkamp and Laureano to the Line

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                This Saturday (9-11) was on hand for the 37th annual Grant County Invitational held at Sherman Elementary School in Sherman, Kentucky. This meet is in its second year at The Sherman Elementary course, which had been at Grant County Park for about ten years prior. This meet featured some of the top guys’ and girls’ teams of the state in teams such as St. Henry District, Lexington Catholic, Bishop Brossart, Notre Dame, Ryle, and Dixie Heights whom all placed in the top 3 respectively. This meet also included many middle and elementary school kids bringing the total number of athletes to right around 1,300.

            The meet started with an open race at 8am followed by girls’ and guys’ varsity races. After each division of races, awards were given on a large stage next to the school, a very nice touch by meet management, and these awards included action pictures on the plaques given. Not only did these athletes get trophies and plaques, but the top 40 for varsity races received awards too.

             Today’s meet started off with perfect running weather being in the mid to low 60s with a nice breeze and some overcast cloud cover. This perfect weather lasted through the girls’ varsity race up to five minutes before the start of the guys’ varsity race…at this time the clouds unloaded large amounts of rain onto spectators, athletes and workers alike. Though many spectators and meet staff may have hated it, the varsity boys seemed to love it and got into an extremely hyped mood as everyone was jumping and screaming until the start of the race.

              This hyped atmosphere carried all the way through to the finish of the varsity guys’ race with a near photo finish between Zac Holtkamp of Bishop Brossart and Nicolas Laureano of Lexington Catholic. These two guys and Brenden Dooley of St. Henry District dueled it out for the first 4K until Holtkamp and Laureano made their move with about 800 meters to go on the last hill of the race. The team race would go onto be won by St Henry District scoring 65 and closely followed by the gentlemen of Lexington Catholic who scored a dually impressive 67, being only 3 seconds away from winning the team title.

              After his victory today Zac Holtkamp took some time to speak with and answer a few questions. On being asked about how it feels to start the season on such a good note he said it feels a lot better than last year where he was hindered by mono at the start of last season for about a month, hurting his chances at competing to his best ability last season. Zac has very high goals this season as he mentioned he is training to possibly win the individual title and team title at states, a very legitimate goal for him. Zac has great appreciation for his teammates who push him when he is not feeling as he said. He also stressed their great ability and his coach’s, to help push him on some tempo runs. Zac not only has great talent at this level but also is looking towards possibly competing collegiately next year. This week leading up to the meet, Zac and his team ran base mileage (M/W) with tempo (T/R) and then had a pre-meet run Friday. Zac enjoyed his second invitational win of the season and of his career today, especially one that he really had to work all 5000 meters for.

               In the girls varsity race Gabby Gonzales of Ryle led near wire to wire from having a three second lead at the mile mark (6:01) to a 44 second margin at the finish over fellow senior Mary List of Notre Dame (20:07). Gabby ran an impressive 19:23 in what seemed easy for her, though she still said the course was a little tough due to some of the hills and its repetitive nature. The girls top three was finished out by another Ryle Raider in seventh grader Jensen Bales (20:26) helping her team to a second place team finish behind The Notre Dame girls who scored an impressive 38 points, 4 points less then Ryle.

     also got a chance to speak with Gabby on her victory where she had nothing short of excitement and feelings of accomplishment knowing that she is on track to meet her goals for this season. Some of Gabby’s goals are to improve more on her PR of 18:54 and to win states this year, which will be a rematch with the girl who bested her last year, Gabby being the runner up last year. She loves having such a great team and a little sister who is a sophomore (Emily Gonzales) who with her teammates such as Jensen Bales keep Gabby on her toes and ready to compete. Gabby being a senior is also looking towards running collegiately with having talks with about four schools about that opportunity. She is now running about thirty miles a week and it seems to be working perfect for her, giving her the results she likes to see, especially at the beginning of the season which she sees as a refreshing thing.

             Next to follow after The Varsity races and awards were The Junior Varsity races. First for the JV was the girls’ race, won by Amy Hansen, a sophomore at Notre Dame, who reeled in Erica Bluford, a freshman at Dixie Heights, in the last fifty meters to win. Erica Bluford pushed the pace early coming through the first mile is 6:40, 12 seconds ahead of Amy. Both finished in great times (21:33/36), which would have placed them 14th and 15th respectively in the Girls Varsity race.

              In the Guys JV race it was not the same story as the prior two races where as Dylan Valdez, a sophomore out of Campbell County, won by over one hundred meters, adding fifty of those to his lead in the last thousand meters. The guys’ race top three was rounded out by Connor Snyder of St. Henry District (2nd in 19:16) who led early, going through the mile at 5:38, which was eleven seconds ahead of Valdez and Daniel Myers of Paul Dunbar (19:27) who would go onto third place.

               This meet was a great meet, even though it may have rained a little, the design of this meet was very good. The course was one that had many switchbacks on a fast grass course, not to mention a few hills thrown in. This meet lived up to its legacy, being that of a 37 year old meet, older then some schools and even some of the coaches. Meets like this rely not only on great meet staff but also great teams and athletes competing and without those; a meet like this would never last 37 years.