The Top Challengers
1. Sami Hattab: Any outside concerns about Hattab's performance level based on recent times going into the KHSAA Region 3 meet were eased after he ran 15:37.28 to win his first region title. Before that, he'd posted times of 16:24.58 and 17:12.26 in October after four straight sub-16 minute races to open the year. Hattab's PR of 15:24.10 at this season's Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational is the best time in Class 3A this fall by a couple seconds. The defending Class 3A state champion will look to go back to back for St. Xavier in his final season.
2. Tiger Bartlett: He's the only junior in Class 3A with a top-10 time this season, a 15:26.00 that came at the Nike XC Town Twilight Invitational on Oct. 1. The standout from Ryle has put up sub-16 minute marks in three of his last four races, and Bartlett's slowest time in 2022 (16:13.23 on Sept. 3) falls just outside the top 20 individual times this season. He finished 19th as a sophomore (17:29.95).
3. Thomas Ashby: Taking only average time of completion into consideration, Ashby would be the top seed. The Apollo senior's average of 15:51.34 is better than that of Bartlett (15:54.66) and Hattab (15:57.74), and he has the benefit of having run the course very well last year in unfavorable conditions; he ran it in 16:36.04, less than two seconds behind Hattab to earn runner-up honors. Ashby has finished first in four of his last five races, and has sub-16 minute 5K times in four of his last five.
4. Philip Lamartiniere: The Tates Creek senior is coming off his best performance of the season, winning a second straight Region 6 title after running 15:39.63 last weekend. That time slotted him as the No. 2 seed behind Hattab. Lamartiniere has the least competition wear on his legs among all the runners at the top of the performance list; a nagging injury kept him out of events until Sept. 24. He ran 14th last season but will try to give the Commodores their first champ since 2007.
5. Ryan Hendrix: A sophomore out of Woodford County, he'd won two straight meets before finishing runner-up to Lamartiniere last week in their regional. Still, his time (15:48.87) was good enough to be third in seeding) and wasn't too far off his PR, the fifth fastest time in Class 3A this season (15:40.47). Hendrix finished 96th overall last year and 14th among freshmen; look for him to be among the biggest risers in 2022.
Teams to Know
1. St. Xavier: The winningest program in KHSAA track history is the only team in the state with at least five runners who've posted sub-17 minute times this season - and the Tigers have seven. Kaden Wancket, a freshman, owns the team's top PR after Hattab (16:15.10) but isn't entered into the state meet. Thomas Weber and Isaac Baker each have sub-16:30 times this fall, and will need to deliver big days to get the Tigers their 25th team title. Their average time as a team: 16:11.53.
2. Conner: Last year's champs aren't as deep as St. Xavier, but they could be quicker at the top: Joey Carroll (15:53.00), Drew Moore (15:54.20) and George Johnson (15:56.00) all have run sub-16 minute times this season to lead the Cougars. All three rank in the top 25 seed times based on last weekend's regional performances; no other school has more than two runners in the top 25. They average a 16:18.12 team time.
3. Covington Catholic: Far from the top of the standings last season, the Colonels most likely will vie with Apollo and Manual for a top-three team finish. Sophomore Will Sheets ran the seventh fastest time in Class 3A this fall (15:44.90) and senior Mitchel Drees also boasts a top-20 time (15:56.80). CovCath's the only other team with a sub-16:30 average a a team (16:27.26).