State Meet Surprises

What an incredible day of racing we just experienced. We saw great examples of teams overcoming obstacles and individuals setting themselves apart at the opportune moment. I think that this was one meet that people will talk about and remember for a long time because it really brought everything to the table: underdogs pulling out the win, favorites sealing the deal, and unreal twists along the way. Let’s talk about the surprises first.

The first race of the day was one of the biggest surprises of the day as right away it was apparent that a new state champion would be crowned. Kaitlin Snapp of Danville made an attempt to run, but illness from last week, as well as all of this week, prevented her from being able to complete the race. That being said, the likes of Danielle Hoop of Owen County and Maria Frigo of St. Henry instantly became the favorites because they returned from 2nd and 3rd place finishes, respectively, last season, and they appeared to be running at a very high level coming in. It was an unlikely duo from the Sayre School in Lexington that claimed the day, though, as 7th-grader Maddox Patterson took the individual title, running away from the field in the second half of the race to claim an sizable win, while her teammate, Ann Eason, skated past Hoop just yards before the finish line to claim 2nd. I had mentioned before the race that I thought the two harriers might be able to pull off a scenario where they both finished in the top five, but this was something that no one expected.

Staying in the same race, I was very impressed by the young crew from Louisville Collegiate that finished their day, just one point out of 3rd place. The squad’s top five has no athlete that has more than sophomore status and was led by 10th, 12th, and 18th place finishes from Sarah Bode, Mallory Tyler, and Katherine Receveur, respectively. They came on strong at their regional meet on a tough course, but their performance this weekend was still very unexpected and impressive.

If someone could find out what Adam Kahleifeh of Bardstown eats the week before the state championships every year, I think many of us would subscribe to that diet. Kahleifeh has made a living in Class A by showing up at the state meet and surprising much of the competition. Today, he was racing in what appeared to be a T-shirt and found himself squarely in 2nd place when he crossed the finish line, following a season that showed nothing to imply he was capable of that. Last weekend, at his regional meet, Kahleifeh placed 4th and didn’t seem at all prepared for a run at the top five spots this weekend, but once again the magic man pulled it off. Remember this name when track season comes around because I suspect a similar result.

Krisston Sentor of Allen-County Scottsville was a nice surprise in the Class AA girls’ race as she crossed the line in 4th place today. Sentor had shown well in several different meets in the southeastern part of the state, but in her only trip to the state meet course previously, she struggled mightily to compete. Today, she was rared and ready to go and took home a great finish that will serve her well going forward.

Ryan Thurman of Calloway County had a situation very similar to Sentor’s as Thurman had raced well against most all of the competition he could find in the southeastern part of the state, but didn’t really appear to be in with the top tier of athletes in this race. As things unfolded, though, Thurman challenged early and hung tough late as many of the big names in the boys’ Class AA race struggled and Thurman crossed the line in 2nd place. It was a nice finish for Thurman, whose team was shocked at the regionals and didn’t qualify after placing 2nd overall last year.

South Oldham’s boys flat out got it done today and I don’t know if anyone outside of their group saw that coming. Covington Catholic beat this group soundly on the course at the archives less than a month ago and, though North Oldham lost to this group at the regional last weekend, the Mustangs ran without normal #2 Taylor Sanders that day. The Dragons came in and with their top two competitors fully focused on each other, did their damage late, making decisive moves in the 2nd half of the race to seal their win. Congratulations to Stan and the entire group as claiming both titles is a very impressive feat.

Pendleton County’s group was also impressive and they sent seniors Kurtis King and Cameron Turner out on a high note with a fourth place finish today. It wasn’t a big shock that they placed fourth, but after this team was the prohibitive favorite to win the state championship last season and didn’t even factor into the scoring really, it was nice that these kids felt some redemption on the course today.

Bernadette Catron of Eastern is a great story and deserves every piece of praise she gets for her very surprising 6th place finish this weekend. After placing 9th at the regional last weekend and the Eastern group very nearly didn’t make it out of their regional, Catron led the squad in a very impressive fashion today that showed how well prepared they were up front. Catron and teammate Tori Mayfield flat out got it done today and deserve to be recognized for stepping up when the stakes were highest.

Sacred Heart’s girls were close to Assumption last week, but they gave no real impression that they were ready to unload the kind of performance that they did today. Obviously, Emma Brink was the star for the group as she placed first overall, but it was the four runners that they put in between 20th and 28th, a span of a little more than 9 SECONDS which is stunning. That ability to pack up and compete together is what got it done today as they were easily the first team to get five runners across the line. Julia Means showed that her performances in the spring on the track were viable on the cross-country course as well as she put it together to finish 20th overall and completed the group. Congrats to Coach Heim and the ladies.

Andrew Stewart of North Hardin brought it as well today and really stamped his name as one of the elite in the state. Stewart had previously showed his skill on the track as he finished 4th in the 1600 at the Class AAA state championships this spring and won a USATF Junior Olympic title in the 1500 as well over the summer. His raced today confirmed that he is really becoming a seasoned racing veteran and is someone to be watched going forward.

I don’t know that the surprise was that St. X won, but by how much they won by when all was said and done. The score of 72 was 77 points better than Daviess County in second place and that just allows us to really wonder what they would be capable of if they didn’t have all the issues they had this season. I think that it was great that Thomas Mann ended up being the first one across the line for the group as it showed that he hasn’t lost the talent and ability that he had showed before dealing with an extended injury this year. Mann was across the line in 9th place running 16:38 and their 6th runner crossed in 17:04 placing 25th overall which really just shows how much they forced themselves to pack together this year in an attempt to get the job done. Hats off to Chuck and the group and we can only hope that they follow this up with a great spring as well.