State’s Top Youth Take Over Paris for KTCCCA Meet of Champs

It's time for the youngest runners in Kentucky to take the spotlight.

The KTCCCA Meet of Champions is scheduled for this weekend. While there's a varsity component - and plenty of great runners of that sort expected to appear in Paris - we're focusing on the future.

Multiple state champions will be crowned in the pre-high school ranks this weekend. Here are the leading names to know ahead of Saturday. Let's start from the youngest and work our way up.



The top seed: Kingston Hudspeth, Liberty Elementary School (6:46.41). The fourth-grader enters having won 12 consecutive races dating back to 2020, his first year competing. He first ran a sub-7 minute time last September and won this race a year ago with a time of 7:07.22. His is the only sub-7 minute seed time in the field.

Next up: Bryant Madison, Maxwell Elementary (7:12.51). Madison set his PR a couple of weeks ago in the Bluegrass Invitational, where he finished sixth overall (Hudspeth was first, with his 6:46.41). Madison also is in fourth grade.

Liberty mutuals: Liberty Elementary boasts six of the top 10 seeded entrants, and three in the top five. After Hudspeth, the Lexington elementary school has Asa Park (7:20.88) and Jack Sarlls (7:23.16) seeded third and fifth, respectively. Andrew Roig (7:24.80), Colton Roberts (7:34.00) and Carter Howard (7:39.58) round out their top-10 entrants.

Fast Facts: Matthew Rodriguez (St. Margaret Mary, 7:20.97) and Asa Ewing (7:29.26) are seeded in the top 10 out of Louisville. ... Owensboro's Easton Tong (Heritage Christian School, 7:34.30) is the only top-10 seed from outside Kentucky's "Golden Triangle." ... Hudspeth's 7:07.22 last year is the meet and venue record.


The top seed: Maggie Henderson, Liberty Elementary School (7:25.89). The third-grader set her PR time in the Bluegrass Invitational, where she ran second to Emma Clark of Grassroots Running Club. That was the first time she ran under 8 minutes this season. She finished seventh here last season (8:10.02) and was the only second-grader among the top 20 placers.

Next up: Nora Jane Dick, Athens-Chilesburg Elementary (7:51.38). Her PR is from last season; she's averaged about an 8:40 through 2022. Dick, a fourth-grader, has competed in four meets this year. She finished 17th (8:35.76) in last year's event.

Mighty Mooney: A clerical miscue lists Ella Claire Mooney (Old Mill Elementary in Bullitt County) with a two-year-old seed time of 9:13.00. It's hard to decipher what she's done this season, but her fastest time on Milesplit came in last year's Meet of Champions - she finished third overall with a mark of 7:51.55, which would make her the top returning runner from last year's event.

Fast Facts: Hadley Klingenberg (Locust Grove Elementary School, 8:19.20) and Aida Greber (Beechwood Elementary, 8:22.57) are the only other top-20 third-grade finishers back as fourth-graders this season. ... Alex Woods (Notre Dame Academy) set the meet record at 7:38.25 in 2015, but the venue record was established last year by Esther Montgomery (7:40.77).



The top seed: Joseph Sierpina, Meredith-Dunn School (10:35.13). The sixth-grader from Louisville earned his seed time in the Tiger Run early this season. He ran third here a year ago, finishing in 11:18.17. Sierpina competed well in his first 4K last weekend, finishing ninth (14:51.36) in the Haunted Woods Classic.

Next up: Eli George, St. Agnes (10:35.24). His best time was also at the Tiger Run, and put him just behind Sierpina there. George had the edge here, though, in 2021; he's the defending meet champion. He ran 11:14.92 in last year's event.

Other returnees: Caleb Brown (Kentucky Country Day Middle, 10:39.26), Mark Reinhart (St. John School, 10:48.70), Andrew Haskins (South Oldham Middle School, 10:56.82), Mason Ellis (Barret Traditional Middle School, 11:14.16) and Reid Mattera (South Oldham Middle School, 13:08.41) round out the top-20 fifth-grade finishers who've returned in 2022.

Fast facts: Several participants from Rowan County are listed high on the seed list, but the times used are from races that were just slightly longer than 2,000 meters. ... The meet record has stood since 2013; Muhlenberg County's Jonah Mitchell completed the race in 10:37.10 that season. ... The venue record is just .07 seconds faster and owned by Knoxville's Cade Duncanson.


The top seed: Esther Montgomery, Montgomery Home School (11:37.00). The winner of last year's 2000-meter championship event enters as the top seed in the 3000-meter edition this season. Montgomery is in fifth grade.

Next up: Celia Maudlin, Noe Middle School (11:47.83). Last year's runner-up to sixth-grader Caroline Mooney, Mauldin set her PR last week in the JCPS Middle School Championships. She ran the course in 12:08.85 last season.

Mia Rodriguez, St. Margaret Mary (12:05.34). Rodriguez is the only participant on the seed list whose time is within the neighborhood of Montgomery's. She set that mark last fall and only has one 3000-meter competition listed on her Milesplit profile this season; she ran 12:53.74 in this year's Tiger Run.

2K warriors: Eloise Roth (Lincoln Elementary, 12:19.55), Addisyn Potts (St. Edward, 12:39.90), Ellie Groene (Beechwood, 12:42.20), Nancy Bernis (St. Edward, unseeded) and Bailee Morris (Eastside Middle School, unseeded) all finished in the top 10 of last year's 2000-meter championship race. They could all challenge for high finishes in this year's 3K.

Fast facts: Joanna Bryant (Christ the King School) set the meet record in 2019; she ran 11:18.05. ... The venue record will be even tougher to knock out; Kansas' Sydney Hall set it at 10:46.10 in 2020.



The top contender: Lincoln Krezmien, North Oldham Middle School. Krezmien, an eighth-grader, won the Hopewell Invitational in Paris last month with a PR of 13:36.88. He ran 14:02.60 at this year's Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational to finish third the week before in his only other 4K of the season.

Next up: Ayden Taylor, Christian Academy-Louisville. Taylor, an eighth-grader, won this year's Tiger Run (3K) and boasts the third-fastest 3000-meter time on record this season (behind Murray's Guervenson Binfield-Smith, who's not entered). Taylor won his lone 4K of the season, taking the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational in 13:38.93 - the second fastest mark in the state.

Shadow: It's fair to describe Garrison Gilvin (Our Lady of Lourdes) as Taylor's shadow; the pair have run three races this season and Gilvin's been right behind him each time. His 3K PR came at the Tiger Run and he too finished the 4K Trinity/Valkyrie race in under 14 minutes.

Fast Facts: Three of the next best 4K times in the state occurred last weekend in the JCPS Middle School Championships. They were put up by Johnny Willen (Newburg Middle School, 14:03.23), Brad Filippazzo (Jefferson County Traditional Middle, 14:09.67) and Graham Pearl (Crosby Middle School, 14:11.41). ... James Brown (Bell County Middle School) set the meet record in 2007, running the 4K in 13:01.30. The venue record belongs to Knoxville's Nichols Burke, who last fall at the Cross Country Coaches National ran the course in 13:39.98.


The top contender: Caroline Mooney, Mt. Washington Middle School. The seventh-grader won last year's 3K event and boasts the fastest 4K among her peers this season (15:07.87, set at the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational). That 4K time is about seven seconds faster than her prior best from last year.

Next up: Emmie Underwood, Fort Campbell. The fastest sixth-grader in the state will look to make noise. Anything besides a victory would be her first runner-up finish in 2022; she's swept seven races across multiple distances this year, including three 4K events in her native Western Kentucky. Her PR (15:38.56) is the third fastest 4K time in the state this season.

Absentee: Of girls with the top 10 individual times this season, only one - Racheal Ballenger of Grace M. James Academy Middle - isn't entered. Ballenger's time of 15:11.10 in the JCPS Middle School Meet on Sept. 27 was the second fastest in the state this season.

Fast Facts: Emery Haskins (Jefferson County Traditional Middle) is the entrant who most recently ran a sub-16 minute time in competition; the sixth-grader ran 15:57.90 at the JCPS Middle School Championships last week. ... Gabby Karas (Collins) set the meet record in 2011, when the event was held at Lexington's Masterson Station Park; she ran 14:16.00. ... The venue record is almost a full minute slower; Eliza Pfarr of Illinois made the mark (15:06.64) last November.