Kentucky XC State Championship Recap #1

Another state championship has come and gone in the state of Kentucky, but this one left a mark more than others. For those that didn’t know before the meet, we lost one of the strongest and most influential coaches in the state on Friday when Bardstown coach Tom Williams passed away.  Those who only received the news at or after the meet were crushed by the thought of losing such an amazing colleague in our sport. A man who has changed so many lives at Bardstown, has been a mentor and more to many coaches in the Central Kentucky area and will truly be missed.  Those at Bardstown will take the loss very hard, but those who knew him know he would have wanted his team to carry on as they did yesterday, even with such heavy hearts.


With no athletes being able to race on the state meet course the entire season, there were questions regarding if there had been changes to the course, if conditions would make it sloppy this year, and hopes for better spectator viewing areas.  The course did have some changes to it, as it was a little long for the championships last year, and we saw some more impressive times this year over last year in almost every class.  Conditions were incredible, though the morning races were blessed with less wind and cooler temperatures than the afternoon races and we saw an increase in physical ailments in connection with that change.  As for spectators, there were not many good solutions for all the spectators to get a great line of sight, with specific frustration about the finish area, but I will continue to advocate for spectators to not be allowed on the finish line area after all the flailing and limp bodies that were being tended to by emergency staff in the afternoon races.  After watching about 15 different parents run into the chute area and crowd around athletes who needed space and air while receiving medical attention, it was clear to me that we need to keep spectators away for the safety of the athletes. (Note: I’m sure there will be negative feelings about some of these comments, but it is for the greater good that we keep the area clear and it needs to be said.)


On to the actual racing we go, with our early races reaping the rewards of some cool temps and a light breeze that would grow all day.  Kaitlin Snapp of Danville did what many expected she would do, as she pounded out the pace early to try and pull away from Maddox Patterson of Sayre.  Patterson was patient and waited for her moment, which came coming down the hill to the two-mile mark, when she opened up a gap on Snapp that would never be closed. Patterson laid down a new course record en route to victory and gained a second consecutive state championship in Class A.  Behind the individual race, though, may have been one of the most impressive showings of the whole day.


Fairview’s ladies came in as the favorites for the team title after blistering their regional competition and opening the door for a score that might challenge what we thought only South Oldham might be capable of producing.  7th-grader Lyndsey Burke led the way for the Eagles, just as she has all year, but it was normal #4/#5 runner Katie Richard that really sealed the day for Fairview, when she crossed just four spots back of Burke in 13th place.  Haley Layne was two more spots back in 15th and Brooklyn Bowen made four ladies in the top 20.  Maddy Rymer posted a 35th place finish to close the whole thing out in style. The group averaged 20:22.49 for their scoring five and when we went through and combined the performances from the entire day, Fairview landed an impressive 4TH overall ahead of teams like South Oldham, Bowling Green, and Daviess County.  The squad only really traveled to race any of the more talented teams in Kentucky once (at South Oldham October 16th), but their racing and training paid huge dividends at the end and they deserve everything they get this year.  Don’t forget, that they will get another year with their current top seven and two more years with their entire top six.


Sayre was even more impressive through three runners, though, as they posted the first, third, and seventh place finishers on the day to kick off their team score to the tune of 9 POINTS through 3 runners.  Placed into the AAA results, these ladies would have still placed with two in the top five and Couturier finishing in the top fifteen, so you can see just how impressive this was.  Mills Maloney had been their third runner at the beginning of the season, and then fourth with the emergence of Courturier, but was nowhere to be found in the postseason after being injured in October and having to shut down the rest of the year.  Sayre’s 4-5 was not particularly different from what they had been recently, it just wasn’t enough to sneak ahead of St. Henry in the final results as the Crusaders claimed 2nd in a year when they were probably the weakest squad they have had in a long time.  Sydney Pitt’s 22nd place finish was probably the biggest factor for St. Henry in grabbing 2nd, but the fact that they were able to get 34th and 48th place finishes out of runners that didn’t seem to be factors at the beginning of the year showed why this group is consistently dangerous.


Green County was the surprise team of the day, though looking at the performance list from the regionals would have told the story. Scoring out the regionals performances put Green County 2nd overall and they nearly matched that this weekend, falling just 11 points short of St. Henry even after putting four athletes in the top 30. This group only loses one from their deep squad so we will be looking for them again next year as they look to return to the podium when all is said and done.


-The youth movement continued in Class A as we only saw two seniors among the top 24 finishers and will be looking for the same names to return next year without much change in the team standings. The two seniors, Ann Eason of Sayre and Danielle Hoop of Owen County, complete impressive careers, with Eason placing 2nd and 3rd the past two seasons, while Hoop had another strong finish at a race she has been near the front of for the past six years. 


-The private school stranglehold of Class A was cracked a bit this year, with a public school winner (Fairview) and three more public schools (Green County, Trimble County, and Walton Verona) placing in the top six.


-Nine of the top twenty finishers were middle school athletes.


The boys’ race was interesting coming in with early favorite Jacob Thomson of Louisville Holy Cross dealing with some illness that left him physically depleted and opened the door for his teammate, Dominic Perronie, to take advantage.  Bishop Brossart’s Zach Holtkamp wasn’t giving away anything to either of these two early, though, as he quickly went to Perronie’s shoulder and hung there for much of the first two miles.  The three never really shuffled much, until the last mile, when Thomson surged past Holtkamp near the exchange between the fields to secure second place as Perronie cruised to the win in 16:15 with Thomson seven seconds back and Holtkamp 3rd in 16:29.  The biggest surprise of the race was following behind this group, though, as Austin Adams of Somerset moved into fourth place early and never left it, running to an impressive 16:37 clocking ahead of standouts John Burke of Louisville Collegiate and the Waltman boys from Sayre.


Brendan Dooley kicked off the scoring for St. Henry in 8th-place, but they looked to be in serious trouble as Jack Foster and freshman standout Michael Caldwell crossed in 11th and 12th for Bishop Brossart ahead of St. Henry’s Daniel Wolfer (13th), Cameron Rohmann (15th), and Nathan Lentz (22nd).  Andy Wolfer kept the lead in Brossart’s hands at the four spot, finishing just behind Lentz in 23rd, but Frank Bruni gave the Crusaders hope by crossing right behind Wolfer in 24th overall.  Then the waiting came and as seconds passed, St. Henry came closer and closer to claiming the title. Bishop Brossary was just hoping that the lead that they had accrued would last, but as the clock ticked to 18 minutes and Brossart’s fifth crossed, it was already some 20 seconds too late and St. Henry added another title to their collection.  Brossart has to be praised for making it so interesting, but in the end the Crusaders depth was just too much.


Owensboro Catholic emerged in third with a respectable 17:26 average, but just as was the story last year, they didn’t have enough at the five spot to battle for the win. The same was true for an impressive Louisville Holy Cross squad that posted 1-2-14 for their first three in the team scores and placed fourth overall.


-Seven of the first fourteen runners were seniors


-Trimble County was the first public school, finishing 6th, and only three public schools even cracked the top 10 (Elliott County 9th and Bardstown 10th).


-Thomson has been 3rd and 2nd in the state championships the past two years.


-St. Henry only loses two of their top seven runners and they ended up fourth in the combined scores for the entire day.