Not much can make the rolling hills of Marshall County’s course seem more daunting than they already are. Throwing in full sun and a high of 85 can most definitely add to the challenge and that was exactly what runners had to look forward to for the 2014 Marshall County Invitational.
The youngest racers started off the meet with the the elementary 1600 meter run. Bailey Gillette from Christ the King won the girls race with a time of 7:17.70. Dallas Ahart from Trigg County came in first for the boys with a time of 6:18.60. Muhlenberg County won the girls portion by one point. East Calloway showed a more solid win in the elementary boys race.
The girls middle school 4k was won by a strong margin by Carley Dowdy from Graves County with a time of 16:22.70. Kaylee Wilson of the out of state Jackson Junior High, came in not far behind with a time of 16:42. Wilson helped lead her team to an overall victory with a team score of 41. Marshall County was not far off in second place as a team with a score of 44
The middle school boys race was a closer one. Jonah Mitchell and Steven Newman, teammates from Muhlenberg County, helped provide a fine race for the boys middle school 4k. Mitchell took first place with a time of 14:21 with Newman close on his heels finishing in 14:32.60. Their one-two finish helped secure Muhlenberg County’s win with a team score of 37. Jackson Junior High finished second as a team with a score of 46.
Out of state competition not only provided for a fast pace in the high school women’s 5k, it also gave a national elite time with Jackson High School’s Chelsea Drum’s first place finish in 19:11.10. It was a no contest race for Drum, leading from start to finish. Drum easily clocked her first mile alone in around 5:50.
Meade County’s top runners Ashlee Davis and Hannah King were keeping Drum in sight early on. They were only a few seconds apart when they hit the one mile mark. Davis crossed first at 5:55 and King at 6 flat. These two provided competition for Drum’s closest teammates Tayler Winick and Carli Knott. These two from Jackson High School were also staying close passing the one mile near 6:10.
As the race eased into the second mile mark, it was noticeable that Drum was in cruise control, clocking her two mile in 12:00. No other runner was in sight of her.
The competition was behind her and they were putting up a fight for second place. Jackson High School’s Winick and Knott stayed side by side. As they neared the two mile mark they had passed both Davis and King, of Meade County, who were now staggered behind them.
Drum crossed the finish line looking quite strong. The next runner would take over a minute to claim second place. She ended up leading teammates Winick and Knott to a 1-2-3 finish for the Jackson High School. Winick took second place with a time of 20:24.60. Knott was right behind in third with a time of 20:25.00.
“We knew that we would be in the front pack,” said Knott. “We always do well at this meet.”
Winick elaborated that the hilly course was fine; their times as a team were not the best. Schedule as much as the course had something to do with it. While a solid race is always a goal the team was focusing on next weekend’s big meet.
“Today I just wanted a good run. We are trying to gear up for the Arkansas Chili Pepper run next weekend. It is a really big race,” said Drum.
When asked about her strong performance and commanding win she stated. “Even with the hills, I ran a pretty good time today.”
Meade County’s Davis finished fourth with a time of 20:46.10. King rounded out the top five with a time of 20:53.00. As a team they were happy to have the new competition and additional challenge.
“We did better that expected,” said Davis. “We wanted to go after Jackson. It was kind of exciting, everyone was talking about us. We showed that we could go after them.”
While a team win for Meade County did not happen, the team still had things to celebrate about.
“We put effort into every race,” said King. “We did well working as team, packed well and stayed close were just three points off Jackson. There were no PRs but it was a great race.”
Jackson High School took the win with a team score of 30. Meade County came in second with a score of 33.
The boys varsity 5k was a closer battle for first place. Jack Jeffers from Jackson County High School led the race from early on. He ran well with a small pack in his shadow. Jeffers crossed the one mile mark at 5:15. His teammate Ean Buffington was only slightly behind at 5:20. Meade County’s Jonathan Howard was a few strides off, clocking his first mile at 5:30. These three with a few other runners made up the front pack of the boys varsity 5k.
Jeffers set a tough pace, running his second mile in 10:36. With runners not far behind him, he pushed ahead. He made his climb up the famous Marshall County finish, completing the race in 16:43.60. Fellow teammate Buffington finished second with a time of 17:09.40.
“I was expecting and hoping that it would be a real race,” said Jeffers. “I looked up their times online and saw that it should be a real race.”
Once instance where this was illustrated was during his teammates finish.
“I thought I was going to end up being third,” said Buffington. “But in the last 200 something hit me.”
Both teammates agreed that they were not looking to PR at today’s meet. Their shared goal was just to improve their times compared to last year’s invitational.
Howard helped Meade County keep Jackson High School from sweeping the top three individual places. He did so by running earning third place with a time of 17:15.90.
“I looked at their times online before the meet,” said Howard. “I am a Milesplit junkie.”
He elaborated that after doing his research, he had set up strategy to let the top Jackson High School runners control the first half of the race and that he would try to play catch up during the second half.
“It worked pretty well,” said Howard. “I caught their number two runner, he just outkicked me.”
Howard and his team’s efforts were not enough to keep Jackson High School from winning the race as a team. Jackson High School took the first place team trophy home with a team score of 25. Meade County was just short with a score of 37.
The times help reflect that the races were just as hot as the weather. Runners and coaches alike seemed to agree that the Marshall County Invitational provided a good gauge for where runners were at and where they might be in the weeks to come.