Who to Watch: 2023 Cross Country Preview
As we march towards the Cross-Country season, the KY Milesplit team decided to highlight some key returners on both the Boy's and Girl's sides who could compete for State Championships this coming season.
Riku is the defending KHSAA Class 2A State champion from the 2022 Cross Country season. Sugie owns the second fastest time among returners and is primed for a breakout junior season. Sugie's former teammate, Lane Hoyes, ran 14:54 at Runninglane two years ago. Sugie has his sights on a similar performance this season as he looks to break the 15 minute barrier for the first time in his career.
Some under the radar news from this summer was the addition of Cooper Wasson to the George Rogers Clark Cross Country team. Wasson, the fastest returner, ran for Bluegrass United Homeschool for the past two seasons winning the Homeschool National Championship in consecutive seasons. Look for Wasson to challenge for the class 3A State Championship this season.
Will Sheets and his Covington Catholic team have made the move down to Class 2A. This move certainly muddies the Class 2A waters as Sugie, the odds-on favorite to repeat as champion, will now have to compete with 2022 Class 3A State Champion in Will Sheets. Sheets brings the third fastest returning time to Class 2A with him and his arrival to Class 2A will make the Sugie/Sheets battle THE race to watch at the 2023 KHSAA State Cross Country Championship.
Tiger Bartlett announced his presence to Class 3A last season improving his 5k average to well under the 16 minute barrier. Building off this, Bartlett had an incredible track season finishing in the top 5 in the 1600m at the 2023 KHSAA Class 3A Track and Field State Championships this season. Given his history of constantly improving and his pension for staying healthy, look for Bartlett to contest Wasson for the Class 3A State Championship this season.
Noah Matthews, Junior, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Tula Fawbush has been one of the top runners in the state for the last three seasons, and with the graduation of Jesica Secor and Ciara O'Shea, she has to be considered one of if not the favorite to win the Class 3A Cross Country Championship this season. Fawbush is the state's fastest returner by 25 seconds and showed incredible versatility in the Outdoor track season almost second handedly carrying Oldham County to a Top 4 team finish. Fawbush is definitely one to watch this Cross Country season.
Raegan Gilmore and her Assumption team dominated last year's Cross Country scene barely falling to Dupont Manuel at the 2022 KHSAA State Cross Country Championships. However, a notable omission from that race was Gilmore herself. A lot of speculation can go into what would have happened if Gilmore ran at the State Championships in terms of Assumption's team success, but at a minimum, they are looking prime to contend for a State Championship with Gilmore leading the charge.
Addison Moore finished 4th at the 2022 KHSAA State Cross Country Championships a season ago. Before this, however, Moore ran close to an unblemished season, only losing at the Trinity Valkyrie where she placed 6th. Being so young, Moore had a tendency to be aggressive early and try to hold on to what the leaders did. With another year under her belt, Moore should be more prepared for the strategic nature of Championship races putting her right in the mix to contend for the 2023 Class 3A Cross Country State Championship.
Chesney Mcpherson was one of the State's brightest spots last season as he improved her time at the State Championships by a full 2 minutes. Mcpherson also showcased growth by finishing 2nd at the 2023 KHSAA Outdoor Track and Field State Championships in the 3200 to Ciara O'Shea. With Mcpherson's quick improvements and obvious talent, she is definitely one to watch as she contends for the Class 3A State Championship this season.