The weather this week had been perfect: clear skies, sunshine, and mid 70’s. However, it wouldn’t be October in Kentucky if Mother Nature didn’t have her way every once in a while and a cold front accompanied by rain came through overnight and made for a chilly, windy Saturday morning. Fortunately, XC runners are tough as nails and it would take more than a high of 55 to keep athletes away from running some great races at Masterson Station Park this morning, where the High School Girl’s race saw a fierce individual battle go down, and the High School Boy’s race had two Top 10 teams go down to the wire. On the Middle School side, two individuals both laid down great performances, leaving little doubt in victory.
Girls Varsity Race
With Michaela Reinhart sidelined with a minor cold, it was time for a new runner from the Lexington Area to shine. Coming into the meet, the likely favorite to take the victory in Reinhart’s stead was Kendall Hayes of Woodford County. She jumped out of the box fast and was quickly met at the front by Shelby Watkins of Nicholas County. In fact, not only did Watkins just challenge Hayes, she had a step on her at the mile. Both came through in about 6:00 and at that point, the tone of the race was established. This was going to be a two-horse race until the end. At about the 1.5-mile point at the Masterson Station course there is the largest hill the runners face and Watkins took that as an opportunity to try to stretch the lead out. Hayes went right with her and by the 2-mile had opened a 2s lead over Watkins. When the 4-wheeler came into view before the finish, I had no idea what had happened during the last mile (not a real good way to see that mile and make it back to the finish) but it was Hayes who emerged first, and took the victory in a time of 19:47. Watkins, having given a great effort and really challenged over a 2+ mile stretch, took runner-up with a 20:07. The rest of the field was dominated by a pack of Meade County runners, lead by Hannah King in 3rd place overall with a time of 20:14. Meade County would go on to win with an overall score of 36, a real solid performance with only 1:01 1-5 split. Woodford County benefitted from Hayes’ score of “1” and managed to take runner-up over a somewhat depleted Tate’s Creek squad, 77-85.
Boys Varsity Race
As exciting as the individual battle on the girl’s side was, the team battle was equally enthralling on the boy’s. Individually, it was a Tates Creek 1-2 punch of Ben Young and Alex Mortimer leading the whole way with Young over Mortimer. They came through the mile at 5:07 and 5:10 and then the two-mile at 10:21 and 10:34 with a big gap after Mortimer. Young would go on to win with a 16:14 and Mortimer grabbing 2nd with a 16:32. Now, as for the team race… It was a battle of the pack-attack of Meade County (AAA #6) vs. the individual punch of Tates Creek (AAA #7). At the mile, Young and Mortimer were 1-2 but at that point, Tates Creek also held down 3rd place with the first Meade County runner coming across the mile in 7th place, but with company from 3 of his teammates. That pack slowly moved their way up the field and by the 2-mile, they were sitting right on the tail of the 3rd place runner. At the finish line, Meade County occupied the next 4 spots after Young and Mortimer with Logan Greco in 3rd at 16:50, Jonathan Howard in 4th at 16:59, Jacob Robertson in 5th at 17:05 and Nick Kapalungan in 6th at 17:08. Tates Creek’s 3rd runner placed 8th overall, and was quickly followed by Meade Co.’s 5-6 in 10th and 12th. Although Tate’s Creek’s 4th and 5th weren’t far behind, finishing in 14th and 15th, the pack up front was too dominant and Meade County won with a score of 27 and a gap of only 38s. Tates Creek was runners-up with a score of 38 and Dunbar earned 3rd with 91 points.
In the girl’s middle school race it was an elementary school athlete who took top honors, as Lucy Westlake, a homeschooled athlete, jumped out front early and never looked back. She came through the mile at a 6:06 and was 7s ahead of the next competitors Rebekah Howard of Glasgow and Kaylee Wilson of Christian Academy of Louisville. Westlake opened up her lead before turning into the “Prison Loop” area of the 4000m course and pushed it home for the victory in a time of 15:47 (a sub 20 5K pace!). Howard finished just under 16 flat in a time of 15:59 (also sub 20 pace) and Wilson was able to grab 3rd. Much like the high school races, Meade County was the victors with 40 points thanks to another pack attack, with runners scoring in the 5-8 spot, then 14th. West Jessamine was the runner-up team with 58 points.
It was clear from the gun that Keeton Thornsberry came to race today. The cold couldn’t slow down his blistering pace and it was a one-man race the entire way. Thornsberry, of Notre Dame (Louisville), came through the mile in 5:13 and was already 27s ahead of Connor Hayes of St. Leo School and Phillip Gerharstein of Saints Peter and Paul who came through in 5:40. Thornsberry was racing against the clock the entire way and was certainly not content with just a victory, but he was looking to win big. He was able to push home the victory and ran a State-Leading 13:19 for 4K (16:38 5K pace)! Hayes was able to pull away from Gerharstein and take runner-up in a time of 14:11. Darryn Schnieder also from Notre Dame was able to run a very steady race and come in 3rd with a 14:36. Notre Dame put in a dominating performance at the front, taking the 1-4 scoring spots and then 25th which was good enough for first with 35 points. On the other hand, Beaumont had a pack place 7th and 9th – 12th and took runner up with 49 points.