The Top Challengers
1. Caden Miracle: His PR time - 15:07.70 - is the fastest by any KHSAA runner this season. The Bell County senior earned it at the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational on Sept. 17. He's seeded fourth in this race because of his time in the Region 5 meet; he ran 16:19.94 there, more than a minute faster than the next-best competitor. Miracle comes in on a nine-race win streak, and he's ran his best times of the season when challenged by the best fields. He's a deserving favorite to win a second straight KHSAA championship.
2. Riku Sugie: If it's not Miracle who holds the first-place trophy, Sugie's the best bet. His PR, also earned at this year's Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational, is 15:17.20 - about 10 seconds behind Miracle but about seven seconds better than any other time put up in the state this fall. The sophomore out of Thomas Nelson is seeded No. 1; he was the only Class 2A runner to post a sub-16 minute seed time in the regional meets (15:40.24). His average finish time in seven races is 15:40.76, significantly faster than Miracle's average in 10 competitions (16:05.1).
3. Adam Patel: The North Oldham junior got his first 5K victory last weekend after running 16:10.74 in the KHSAA Region 3 meet, about 43 seconds ahead of another Class 2A contender, Spencer County sophomore Casey DeSilvey. Patel's seeded third with that time, his slowest of the year; he ran sub-16 in his five other races, including a PR of 15:35.12 in the Tiger Run on Aug. 27.
4. Brendan Nagle: Sugie's closest competition in the KHSAA Region 2 meet came in the form of this John Hardin junior, who's seeded second here after running a 16:02.07 there. He PR'd earlier this month in the Daviess County Classic (15:48.33), and has finished in the top three in four of the six races he's entered. It's not outlandish to think that Region 2 could produce two of the top three finishers on Friday.
5. Layden Wagoner: The Webster County senior gets the slight nod here over Trigg County's Austin Cavanaugh, by whom he was defeated in the KHSAA Region 1 meet last weekend, because his top time (15:50.58) is about 20 seconds better. Either could finish in the top five, though; Cavanaugh just edged him for eighth place at last year's state meet (16:49.54 to 16:49.77).
Teams to Know
1. North Oldham: Patel's the headliner, but No. 2 runner Jasper Smith isn't too shabby himself; he has a 16:43.30 PR, the second fastest time by any freshman in Class 2A this fall. The Mustangs last year had three of the top 10 finishers, including runners No. 2 and 3, though both graduated.
2. Webster County: Based on season-long averages, the margin between the Trojans and North Oldham is razor thin. The Mustangs get the edge in average score (629-630) but Webster County's average time is fractions better than the two-time defending team champs (16:48.23 to 16:48.66). The Trojans have two top-10 runners in Wagoner and senior Garrett West (PR of 16:18.05 earlier this month), and will need both to thrive in pursuit of their first team title.
3. Boyd County: Consistency is key for the Lions, who are led by a pair of top-15 underclassmen with in-season PRs: junior Mason Newsome (16:18.05) and freshman Ayden Riddle (16:39.18). After them, their No. 3-5 runners all have top times between 17:16.5 and 17:19.4. Boyd County's average time is 16:56.17.