Men and Women of Daviess County Red Line Rage to City-County Titles

Men and Women of Daviess County Red Line Rage to City-County Titles
October 2, 2013
Owensboro, KY – While departing from the City-County Cross Country Championships a coaching contact called to inquire about the races.
“You remember the middle of that Denny Green rant from his time with the Phoenix Cardinals?” I asked.
“Daviess County won, I take it,” he said, chuckling in response.
I replied, “They are who we thought they were.”
Daviess County’s men’s and women’s cross country teams raced up to their billing, having exacted a sweep of team and individual titles for their respective races last evening.  Both teams entered the competition ranked 4th in the AAA rankings from September 24th.
While the race outcomes played out nearly identical to the paper or virtual meet, the evenings importance lies in the end of season implications for the pair of elite squads from the counties east side.  On an individual level, aside from the winners, the night put a spotlight on Apollo’s Tristan Durbin and Owensboro’s Rachel Keeley.
The women’s race began with Owensboro’s Keeley and Alex Girten bolting to the front with Apollo’s Leslie Burns.  
“I felt like Daviess County was going to do what they do every year, which is to sit for the first part of the race,” said Keeley.  “I just wanted for Alex, Leslie, and I to create a pack and stay up front for at least the first mile and pace each other.”  
By the 800 meter mark, the Panthers had spotted the trifecta roughly 20 seconds.  The leading pack passed the 1k in 3:43. 
Daviess County remained patient as their party of nine runners passed through the mile in 6:32; 27 seconds behind the leaders. 
Just before Flintstone Junction (roughly 2k) Keeley and Burns dropped Girten from the peloton, or what was to remain of it.  By the 2 mile mark, Keeley was overtaken by a steady barrage of County runners.
“It is hard to overcome such a group,” Keeley added.  “I fought them off till the 3k, but did not give up mentally.”
At that point, the individual race was all Whitney O’Bryan’s.  She split two miles in 12:43 with teammate Amelia Reynolds proximal in 12:49. Keeley held fast, crossing in 12:53.
The Panthers 3-4 runners passed the 2 mile marker in 13:10, having just overtaken Burns (13:12).  DC’s 6-7 women crossed in 13:19 and 13:20, respectively.
Heading into Flintstone for the final time, O’Bryan had gapped Reynolds by 100 meters.  At that point, DC’s 3-4 had overtaken Keeley for good.
“We wanted to bust it for the last 2k,” said O’Bryan. “I was focused on race tempo and turnover heading in to the finish.”
O’Bryan’s strong cruise towards the line sealed the Lady Panthers 8th straight City-County Championship in a row. 
Daviess County won with a low score of 16 points; Keeley spoiled the perfect score.  County’s 5-7 runners locked up the 7 of the top 8 places for the Panthers.  DC’s 1-5 spread was 1:17; their 1-7 registered a 1:37 gap.  Owensboro was runner-up with 51 points. Apollo’s 75 points placed them in third. 
The result pleased Daviess County Coach Mark Fortney.
“We wanted to do what we ended up doing today, which was pack for the 1k, keep 10 together, and open it up at the 3k,” stated Fortney.  “That has been the big improvement tonight.”  
As for the rest of the season, Fortney commented, “Our 3-5 and 6-10 working together is what we need to do.  We need change and movement in the spots each week to remain competitive.  We’re shootin’ for the top this season and I think we are headed in the right direction; we are gaining ground each week.  Getting that gap down to 30 seconds for 3-5 that will make a huge difference.  That is a main focus for us.  Our leaders helped us do that today.”
Daviess County’s Daniel Southard took the lead from the get go.  
“My race plan was to go out a bit slower than I did here last time at Yellow Creek (Border Clash with Muhlenberg County’s Chase Geary), but that didn’t end up happening today,” said Southard.
Southard split the 800 meters in 2:20 with Apollo’s Tristan Durbin and a six-pack of Panthers crossing between 2:25-2:27. 
At the mile, Southard (4:55) and Durbin held fast (5:02).   DC trailed close by with a pack of four guys splitting in 5:07.  Another trio of Panthers followed in 5:17.
By the 2 mile, Southard had stretched his lead over Durbin to 9 seconds, as the fellow senior crossed in 10:25. Daviess County’s 2-5 runners passed in 10:44-10:48.   
Southard extended his lead over Durbin to 75m heading into Flintstone Junction.
It turned out that Durbin’s daily goals were similar to Southard.   
“I wanted to go out slower today and stay more consistent with the goal of working last mile,” Durbin commented.  “I wanted to use speed and close well at the end.”  
Durbin made good on his strategy.
While Southard was in command heading into the finish, Durbin closed extremely well.  In the end, Southard claimed gold with a time of 16:14, with Durbin a mere 4 seconds back.  The Panthers 2-5 finished within 19 seconds of each other to win with ease.  They had a 1-5 spread of 1:01. Apollo was runner-up, totaling 46 points.  Owensboro was third over Owensboro Catholic, scoring 73 points over the Aces 110.  
Southard was proud of Daviess County’s effort for the evening and gave insights into the Panthers’ overall goals for the year.  
“Our goal was to stay together in a Raging Red Line pack,” stated Southard.  “We did a really good job of that.  The guys have been fantastic working together.  I can usually go out, especially in workouts, and everyone will work to stay with me. It’s been pushing them harder to stay grouped up with me.  It was nice to see everyone staying together at the top tonight.” 
“We want to surprise people at the end of the year,” Southard shared.  “I think we got are the team to do it.  We are just going to keep working hard in practice and see what happens.”
Coach Matt Rowe commented on the victory which was his first City-County Championship as a head coach (he replaced his father, the legend, Tony Rowe after last season) and also talked about the seasons end.
“It was nice to get the first win coming in,” a happy Rowe said.  “The guys stepped up and delivered tonight.  I wanted them to find each other early in the race.  The last couple of weeks have been such large fields, that we’ve lost each other.  Our strength is in our packing and when we run together.  I preached that from the get go tonight.”
“We’ll be running our best in the final month,” asserted Rowe.  “We have taken our lumps (DC has raced 4 of the top 10 in the US recently) but have a bigger goal in mind.  The guys have been mature and experienced about it and I like where we are right now.  We need to keep packing together.  We have to have that 1-2 gap closed and move the group further forward.”  
In examination, the race proved that Daviess County’s women are a top team in the Bluegrass.  While their packing and spreads were impressive, it is hard to judge the full validity of those metrics as DC’s effort was not focused on 5k race intensity from the gun.
Rachel Keeley continued to exhibit her elevated intensity towards racing this season and stated that she aspires towards a top 40 AAA finish in Lexington.
The Daviess County men could be meritorious of big things this fall.  Keep in mind that they did not race their true 1-7 for the first month of the season.  As they continue to come together, they could impress.
Tristan Durbin proved that he can race with top 10 competition in Kentucky.  His tenacity was evident over the last 200 meters of the event.  If he can channel that intensity earlier within the final phases of his races, it could be a bright spot for Apollo this season.