Hillbilly Run Preview: Rupp vs. Dowdy Twins; Can Wolken continue her momentum?
There is one word that describes the course at the Hillbilly Run, and that word is “fast.” This course is a runner’s dream, if there ever was an opportunity to get a PR then this Saturday is that opportunity. This race is truly one of the most unique and fun races that will be held this season. There will be fast times, close scores, and several personal bests. In order to add to the already great atmosphere, the Hillbilly Run also provides the unforgettable experience of using a cannon to signal the start of each race which definitely is different from your average starting pistol. This year’s event should be exciting for everyone involved.
North Hardin’s Robert Rupp is having an outstanding season thus far and he comes into this race as the favorite. Rupp may very well run in the mid to low fifteen’s this weekend but he will have some company. Cole and Tanner Dowdy (South Oldham) have had great success at this race in the past, they finished first and second respectively in 2013. The Dowdy brothers had great races last weekend at the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational, Cole ran a season best of 15:49 and Tanner ran a very impressive 16:20. Rupp is looking to get back to his winning ways as he finished second last weekend in Lexington at the Franklin County Invitational. All three of these runners have a lot of momentum heading into Saturday and should push each other as they fight for first place. The Dowdy’s and Rupp may be the big names that gain the most attention but there are a lot of quality runners that will be in the mix tomorrow. Jackson Cooper (Central Hardin), Jarrett Mattingly (Thomas Nelson), Chas Warden (Elizabethtown), Isaac Shelton (Bullitt East), Justin Hanson (South Oldham), and Jiovanni Rivera (North Hardin) have all ran sub seventeen times this season and should be in the pack towards the front. With a course this fast, any of these athletes could find themselves vying for the lead. This should be a very exciting competition; until someone pulls away it will be anyone’s race.
North Hardin and South Oldham will be fighting tooth and nail to get the lowest scores possible as they should only be separated by single digits when it’s all said and done. Both teams are projected to have their first five runners finish in the top 16. With a score that is expected to be so close, the team competition may very well come down to the individual winner or even the sixth and seventh runners. If one of the Dowdy’s can beat Rupp then that may give South Oldham the edge that they need to pull out the victory. The rest of the top five is a toss-up, Central Hardin, Apollo, Bullitt East, Spencer County, Elizabethtown, Thomas Nelson, and North Laurel all have a shot to finish high in the team standings. On such a fast course, the top runners will be expected to gain good position and pack towards the front for their respective teams. Every point will count in a field as loaded as this one.
Brianna Wolken (Mercy) looks to continue her momentum this weekend as she is the heavy favorite going into Saturday. After her convincing win last week at the Horse Park, Wolken is expected to have another outstanding performance tomorrow on a much faster course. If there was anyone who could challenge Wolken it would be Karly Gawarecki of Holy Cross (Louisville), she is the only other competitor to run under nineteen minutes this season. On a course like this one, is it likely that there will be some surprising performances. That is why it will be very interesting to see who ends up in rest of the top ten, there is a lot of parody and that makes for some exciting racing. Savannah Kingery (Elizabethtown), Sierra Poppell (Bullit East), Hallie Searcy (South Oldham), Tabitha Martin (Spencer County), Leslie Burns (Apollo), Haley Webb (South Oldham), Emily Chandler (Central Hardin), and Mary Robinson (Mercy) are all projected to finish in the top 10 but the order they will finish is anybody’s guess. One dark horse is Sydney McWhorter of South Laurel, last week she improved her time by 30 seconds she is poised to make even further improvements this weekend.
South Oldham is a heavy favorite in the team category with five runners projected to finish in the top fifteen. If they do so, it will be hard for other team to challenge them for the championship. Bullitt East, Mercy, and North Hardin all have a very good shot to finish in the top three. On paper, those three teams have the best shot to take second and third place but don’t count out the two teams from Hardin County. North and Central Hardin both could find themselves in the top three if their third, fourth, and fifth runners have solid races. This should be a highly contested event; if there are a couple of unexpected performances then a team may find themselves finishing higher than projected.