It was a cold, cloudy morning for the Graves County Eagle Classic. The wind whipped over the course bringing chill through layers of clothes. The lower temperatures seemed to bring out the festivity of fall in at least one of the starters. Former coach turned race starter Chuck Gullo, wore bright orange reminiscent of pumpkins along with a scary mask in the hopes of getting runners to forget the chill, if only for a moment. His efforts could be considered successful according to the results of the days races.
Marshall County swept the middle school 3k races. Their school provided all individual winners and first place team finishes in both the girls and boys 3k races.
Spring Dolbee of Marshall County was the middle school girls 3k winner. She won with a time of 12:08.20. Not too far behind her was Graves County’s Desteni Thomas with a time of 12:12.50.
Marshall County took home first place and a team with a team score of 35 points. Graves County came in second with 45 points.
Eli English of Marshall County was the only runner in the middle school boys 3k to go under eleven minutes. He crossed the finish in 10:50.30. McCracken County’s David Periello crossed a little over ten seconds behind English, with a time of 11:01.40.
Marshall County won the middle school boys race with a team score of 23 points. McCracken County took second with 46 points.
The high school girls varsity 5K provided quite a show. A battle for first place was fought for by Calloway County’s Kelly Norton and McCracken County’s Ashley Zimmerman.
Norton took the lead early on in the race, with plenty of company leading up to the first mile. When Norton crossed the mile mark in 6:25, Zimmerman was right with her.
This is where the showdown truly became apparent. Side by side they rounded by back the starting line, completing their first full loop of the course. Zimmerman was not going to let Norton run unchallenged. Anywhere the course was flat, they were within a few steps of each other. Every uphill belonged to Norton, every downhill was Zimmerman’s.
The crowd watched and cheered as the lead appeared to change time after time. Both girls proved their strength as they pushed each other in this back and forth. At the two mile mark, Norton was in front, crossing at 13:00, Zimmerman in her shadow at 13:02.
“At the end of the second mile I began to notice Zimmerman,” said Norton. “For a while I thought I might get beat. I just kicked it into gear.”
The back and forth did not stop until Norton finally began to pull ahead as she closed in on the finish.
Norton’s efforts proved triumphant as she crossed the finish in 20:10.90. Zimmerman followed seconds behind, crossing at 20:16.10. Grave’s County’s Erica Holt rounded out the top three with a time of 21:00.60.
“I tell her to always expect competition,” said Calloway County’s coach Keith Jared. “today it made her race the full three miles.”
Zimmerman knew that Norton would not only be excellent competition but that she would be a key to her own success.
“I stayed with her the whole time,” said Zimmerman. “I knew with Kelly I would PR.”
Even though she is no stranger to hills, racing the full three miles was felt by Norton.
“The race felt pretty good, the last mile hurt a little but not much,” said Norton. “I knew I had it in the last quarter of a mile, she did help push me to a PR.”
While both girls were excited by their finish today, their focus was on regionals next week. Each girl hopes to run even faster than this week. Zimmerman hopes for a top ten individual finish, Norton aiming higher with a top five individual finish.
Norton and Zimmerman will be leading their teams as their top runners, each hoping to assist their teams in top finishes.
“For girls, our region is stronger with Webster and Fort Campbell, we are definitely in contention for a regional championship,” said coach Jared. “Our boys have a chance if they make a run at them.”
Today’s team scores may be an indicator, yet hopes are still high.
Graves County was victorious as a team. Graves County’s girls won with a team score of 37. Fort Campbell took second with a team score of 53. Calloway County came in a close third place with a team score of 58.
The boys varsity 5k was won unchallenged by Graves County’s Marcos Macias. His run provided for a commanding race over numerous hills. His run left all other runners to battle for second place and even left Macias a little surprised.
“It was a pretty good race,” said Macias. “I didn’t think that I would do that good.”
Behind Macias was McCracken County’s Josh Grogan. He was leading a pack of boys that would provide the varsity boys 5k top five finishers. While Grogan never posed any threat to Macias, he helped to push him to a season best time.
“Every time I turned a corner, I saw Josh Grogan,” said Macias. “So I kept pushing.”
Macias’s pushing provided for a first mile split around 5:07, a second mile around 10:46 and an eventual first place finish and season personal best time of 16:46.90.
Grogan did finish, also unchallenged in his second behind Macias. He crossed the finish at 17:10.30. Marshall County’s Jacob Carnine crossed the finish line in 17:26.40 for third place.
Defending his home course did not provide the home team advantage some might think. Even he described the hills of his own home course as rough. Looking toward regionals next week, Macias felt the same emotions toward the abundant hills of Marshall County’s course.
“They are going to be rough hills but I hope to do good,” said Macias. “I am hoping to run another PR, maybe a 16:40.”
Being the top runner from his team, he was also well aware of team goals.
“As a team I am hoping we win,” said Macias. “If not, maybe second place.”
Graves County has made their own history in the past few years, sending both girls and boys teams to state. Coach Ken Harrison announced to his team that both teams are poised to bring home hardware from the regional meet and maybe make it back to state again.
This was hopefully reflected in the boys team scores. Graves County won the Graves County Eagle Classic with a team score of 35. Calloway County took second with a team score of 66. Marshall County slid into third place with a team score of 80.
While runners appeared focused on the days runs, minds often seemed to slip to next weekend. Regionals. Nerves and hopeful thinking were already beginning to show in runners. Calloway County’s coach put it best when he enthusiastically stated that he was absolutely fired up for regionals.