Saturday I made my first visit to Franklin, Kentucky for the Wildcat Wilderness Invitational at Franklin-Simpson High School. This meet is the dream of Chris Young, former Allen County Scottville Class AA Kentucky State Cross Country Champion. In just its second year this has quickly become a top notch meet with a course that is your typical run around a field or park.
The big pitch by Coach Young about this course is the comparison to McAlpine Park in North Carolina, home of Foot Locker South. Right off the bat Saturday morning, I saw exactly what he was saying. The runners jog around a pond with a similar shape to the one at McAlpine just a bit smaller. The athletes run 1.5 miles of the race through trails in the woods with nice wide running lanes lined soft limestone to help with footing. In fact, most of the course in and out of the woods is run on the limestone.
To the action Saturday
This late in the season, normally the Junior Varsity races are runners who are working on getting better so they can compete for Varsity spots next year, but in the Junior Varsity boys race we had two former ranked Class AAA runners making come backs. Sophomore’s David Bruce (Butler) and Luke Weishaar (Oldham County) were both coming back from injuries that have left them out for an extended amount of time. In fact, David Bruce only started running a couple days before the Wildcat Wilderness Invitational. He was able to do some work on a bike a week before that. But for five weeks he was out with no running at all. In the end, Bruce gained the victory over Weishaar.
The Varsity Girls race was a showdown between Class AAA #6 Bowling Green, #7 Paul Dunbar, and #8 Oldham County. Dunbar was without their second runner, AAA #9 Amanda Hancock, which eliminated them from the team title. Bowling Green decided they had something to prove as they were packing up front early. Their top three ran pretty much side by side till the end. Oldham County was the opposite, starting steady and gaining ground over the last mile. Bowling Green’s pack was too much in the end as the top three Van Games, Trevor Prieskorn, and Lauren Wheeler finished third, fourth, and sixth individually. They won with thirty-three points over Oldham County’s fifty-six. Claire Grogan led Oldham County with her second place finish. The highlight of the race though was watching Paul Dunbar’s Megan Klein. The #2 runner in Class AAA led from the start and cruised to a nice victory with a time of 19:40. Talking to Klein afterwards, she was happy to get the win but was hoping to run faster, and she was disappointed that Hancock did not run. (Video Interview to be posted soon)
The Varsity Boys race gave us another Eaton/Eden showdown. The #1 and #2 runners in AAA went head to head to the last mile at Lexington Catholic last week. This week was a different story as Ryan Eaton (Greenwood) left the field within the first half mile and never looked back. He crossed the line in 16:17 winning by nearly thirty seconds. Stacey Eden (Shelby County) went with Eaton early but could not hold on and ended up falling back to sixth place. Eden taking the ACT morning probably did not help (his college entrance yes, but running Saturday no.) Andrew Stewart (North Hardin), Sean Breeds (Meade County), and Darius Berry (Butler) ran in a pack battling it out for second place. Stewart used his great speed in the end to pull away for second with a 16:46. Breeds finished third and Berry fourth. The boys from Meade County were the biggest shock of the day as they upset #6 Greenwood and #7 Butler for the win. Breeds led the charge, but their 3-5 came in 16th to 18th making the biggest difference. The trio pulled in front of Butler 4/5 at 25th and 26th. This is a big jump as they beat not only Butler but also another regional foe Male. Five of the top ten in Class AAA are out of Region 3 and vying for only four state qualifying spots…this is going to get interesting. Meade had 64, Butler 73, and Greenwood minus third runner Jared Skrabacz finished third with 84.
Overall it was a great day of racing. It is a very nice course and definitely a meet worth checking out.