Nearly 3,000 runners - almost 1,000 of them at the high school level - will descend upon Louisville Champions Park on Saturday for this year's Tiger Run.
Hosted by St. Xavier High School, the event annually showcases some of the best athletes from throughout Kentucky and Indiana. Let's dive into what the 2022 edition has to offer.
Seven varsity boys, including four from the commonwealth, boast sub-16 minute seed times.
Will Conway of Floyd Central (Ind.) tops the list with a time of 15:19.33, posted at the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships last December; it was good for a 32nd-place finish there. He last raced in Kentucky in Sept. 2021, placing eighth with a 15:52.29 at the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational.
Will Conway placed 32nd at the 2021 Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships
Sophomore Cooper Wasson, who represents the home-school team Bluegrass United, has the second-lowest seed time in the field (15:26.00). That time came in the 2021 Garmin (50th-place finish) and was about 3 seconds faster than his third-place time at last year's Tiger Run (15:28.60).
Adam Patel (North Oldham) rounds out the top three seeds at 15:38.40. That earned him 11th place in the NXR Southeast Regional last November. It was about six seconds faster than his time in last year's Tiger Run, where he finished fourth.
Also running with sub-16 minute seed times are: Aidan Lord (New Albany, Ind.) 15:42.35; Sami Hattab (St. Xavier) 15:42.35; Riku Sugie (Thomas Nelson) 15:42.55; and Aaron Lord (New Albany, Ind.) 15:42.89.
Emily Liddle of Bluegrass United placed second at last year's Tiger Run with a time of 18:19.44, the third-highest in meet history. That's the highest seed time in the girls' field this season.
Liddle since that has run a sub-18:30 twice - 18:27.37 at the Eastbay South Regional on Nov. 27 (43rd finish) and 18:26.39 at the Garmin (28th) on Dec. 4. She'll look to join her older sister Ashlyn, now running for Lipscomb University, as a Tiger Run champion on Saturday.
Multiple top finishers from last year's KHSAA State Cross Country Championships will look to challenge Liddle. Junior Maddie Strong, who finished sixth in last year's Class 2A meet and won the KTCCCA Meet of Champions two weeks prior, boasts the third-fastest seed time (18:40.88) and the best time among KHSAA-eligible runners.
Strong is closely followed by Emma Endress (Butler), whose seed time of 18:42.81 came in last year's Tiger Run. The senior finished 13th in last year's Class 3A state meet, less than four seconds behind Gracie Reed (Barren County), a freshman who will make her debut in the Tiger Run along with teammate Chesney McPherson, a junior.
St. Xavier, the meet's host, hasn't had an individual winner since Spencer Hayden claimed it as a sophomore in 2014. Hattab, the reigning KHSAA Class 3A state champion, is making his Tiger Run debut.
St. X last won the team portion in 2017, with a score of 29.
North Oldham (boys) and Dupont Manual (girls) were last year's meet team champions. Manual is not fielding any runners in this year's edition.
Wasson, Patel and Sugie were the only underclassmen who finished in the top 10 of last year's varsity boys race.
The high school boys' and girls' meet records both fell in last year's event. Fern Creek's Jimmy Mullarkey (15:07.12) and Jaydon Cirincione of Floyd Central, Ind. (18:05.29) were the claimants. Mullarkey signed with N.C. State and Cirincione with Toledo.
A total of 971 high school and 813 middle school runners have registered. Including elementary participants, a total of 2,831 individuals registered for this year's Tiger Run.