Could Adam Patel's first 5,000-meter victory come in his home meet?
The North Oldham junior is the Mustangs' top contender - and the highest-seeded participant - in this year's Rumble Through The Jungle. Contested over two days at the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, it offers one of the most scenic races of the season. From the Preserve's website: Broad grassy paths are perfect for trail-running. This trail climbs up and down hills to overlooks, past native meadows and pine stands.
Going back to 2013, when he was in second grade, Patel has ran competitively here nine times before. He's never recorded a victory but owns five top-five victories in that span, including a third-place run last season (16:12.38). He's the only top-five finisher from last year's race who's entered this year's field, and the only Kentucky runner who comes in with a sub-16 minute seed time.
Patel's finished strong going back to last season, posting seven top-10 finishes over his last nine races, including a PR of 15:35.12 in his last trip out (good for a No. 5 finish in the Tiger Run). How fitting would it be if he capitalized on that momentum with a hallmark victory in his backyard?
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More Boys' Contenders
Dillon Wooten of Fairmont (Ohio) ran his career-best 5K last October in the Saturday Night Lights X. His 15:48.60 is the only other sub-16 minute time on the seed list. The senior will run in Kentucky for the first time in his career after a couple of races in his home state; he posted a 16:30.30 in the OHSAA Early Season Invitational on Aug. 20 and 16:57.40 in the Northmont XC Invitational on Aug. 27.
The next twenty-five entrants boast seed times of under 17 minutes, and 13 of those are sub-16:40.
Pacing that lot is Samuel Walls of Bullitt Central, whose PR of 16:02.34 got him an 10th-place finish at the Tiger Run on Aug. 27. That was a mere week after running a previous best of 16:04.84 (Central Kentucky Run for the Gold). The senior has improved his year-over-year best time by more than a minute and should not be counted out here. His only run in the Rumble was as an eighth grader in 2019 (19:33.60).
Rounding out the top 10 seed times are: Casey DeSilvey, Spencer County (16:07.80); Caden Cull, Male (16:13.78); AJ Kern, South Oldham (16:20,70); Thomas Weber, St. Xavier (16:22.49); Jared Sandfoss, CKY Homeschool (16:27.28); Drew Burden, Madisonville-North Hopkins (16:31.64); and Dylan Ellis, Eastern (16:32.86).
Tula Fawbush (Oldham County) finished second last weekend in the Ryle Invitational, which ran at about a minute slower pace than her best time this season (18:22.74 in the Central Kentucky Run for the Gold). She enters as the top-seeded girl by nearly 20 seconds. Her seed time is 18:04.70.
Nearest to Fawbush is Reagan Gilmore (Assumption). Her best career time, 18:23.70, is comparable to Fawbush's best season time; that came in last year's Great American XC Festival. Gilmore has competed only once in 2022, finishing third in the Bourbon County Colonel Charge with a time of 19:08.66 on Aug. 27.
Gilmore hopes to anchor a strong day for Assumption, which brings two other sub-19 minute times into the race with Leah Penick (18:55.30) and Julia Schmitt (18:56.98). Like Gilmore, this is their first meet since the Colonel Charge.
South Oldham's Abigail Crask (18:38.32) and Butler's Emma Endress (18:42.81) round out the challengers with sub-19 minute mark, though Lucy Spaw (Daviess County) is close with a 19:02.50. Of that trio, only Crask has cracked 20 minutes this season; the sophomore ran 19:53.00 in the Lakota East Fall Classic on Aug. 27.
Ciara O'Shea, also of Madison Central, won last year's girls' race with a time of 18:17.04, the meet record. It was the fourth victory in what would grow into an eight-race win streak for the then junior. She hasn't competed since the Central Kentucky Run for the Gold (17:09.23) but is scheduled to compete in the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational next weekend.
The boys' meet record, 15:32.70, was set by Ciara's older brother, Conner O'Shea, in 2019. He now runs for East Carolina University.
The meet's fastest 2,000-meter times both occurred last year - Sadie Thornton (Northeast Striders) for the girls (7:44.27) and Brooks Crosby (Bloom Elementary) for the boys (7:31.88). Thornton, a sixth-grader, enters with the seventh-fastest middle school girls seed time this year while Crosby is unseeded on the boys' side.
The top three middle school boys, per the seed list: Aidan Albritton (Crosby Middle School, 10:10.14), Lincoln Krezmien (North Oldham Middle School, 10:15.35) and Nate Armani (CKY Homeschool, 10:27.14)
One youth club making its debut here is named Hellfire Club, presumably a reference to the Dungeons and Dragons group in Netflix's "Stranger Things."