State Meet Recap #2: Class AA

South Oldham had been given this title last year and the only question surrounding them now was how low their score would be and then how much they would actually win by when it was all over.  They didn’t dissappoint as they laid waste to the competition, dialing up a score of 51 and breaking the old record of margin of team victory (81) by posting a winning margin of victory of 87 points. Sophomore standout Grace Whitworth led the way for the Dragons as she finished 6th overall, just ahead of senior teammates Hannah Ellis and Jessie Murner, who finished 7th and 8th overall. Senior Christen Profancik wasn’t too far behind for the squad as she crossed in 16th place and freshman Keightley Dudgeon rounded out the scoring five, crossing in 23rd place overall.

While South’s score of 51 was not as impressive as the 41-point total they posted last year, they more than countered it with their margin of victory. With three seniors in their top five this year, they will have their work cut out for them in the coming year to put together another championship group, but there is little doubt that Stan Clark and company will be starting their preparation sooner rather than later as their time in Class AA is likely coming to an end very soon. Three consecutive titles, 8 top 10 individual finishes, and one individual state championship in three years, though, has made South Oldham one of the biggest successes in the state over that time period.

The question of performance of the entire day seemed to be focused around how much South Oldham won by, but in the very same race, there may have been something even more impressive and even more dominating.  All year, Jenna Rogers of CAL and Caterina Karas of Collins HS have battled closely in their match-ups with an even split in the wins leading into the state meet.  At the regional, it was apparent that Karas had progressed, as she handled Rogers by an impressive 22 seconds on the course out in Oldham County, but those not in attendance were asking whether Rogers had held back preparing for the big money race on Saturday.  Karas didn’t waste any time in answering that question as she burst out to the lead from the gun and continued to press the pace early.  Rogers gamely gave chase, but was already at a significant disadvantage after just 800 meters.  Lauren Ossege of Highlands joined the chase with Rogers early and also dispatched of Rogers shortly after the halfway point of the race, but Karas was already too far gone to be touched.

Her splits were not the fastest of the day (Brink and Gonzales were five seconds faster at the mile), but Karas laid waste to the Class AA field and a course that many people brought reservations to before Saturday.  Karas easily surpassed the time laid down by Maddox Patterson in Class A and set a new course record of 18:11.92 that will be hard to match in the coming years.  Karas looked in complete control as she continued to press the pace and the amount of pressure she put on everyone else cause all her chasers to crack well before it was over.

When the dust had settled, it was the greatest margin of victory EVER as Karas ended up winning by 63.26 seconds……that’s over a FULL MINUTE! Rogers had been 22 seconds back at the regional and ended up 1:28 back on Saturday, while Murner was 32 seconds back at the regional and over 2 minutes back at the finals on Saturday! That’s not a shot at either of those two ladies, who finished 3rd and 8th overall, it is just a testament to the performance that Karas prepared and executed on Saturday.  We can only hope that she carries that into the spring and next fall as she begins her final three HS seasons.


Ossege had herself a day as well and brought an interesting thought into the fold with her performance.  Not expected to challenge for first or second place, she was very controlled and impressive in her first HS state championship race, but with the performances that she and her sister, Sydney, had all year, you have to wonder how Sydney would have placed with the high school ladies.  In asking around, though, I received an even more intriguing response: “Ossege’s sister might have done well for sure, but the real question is how Karas’ sister would have done.” That is something to consider after seeing Gabby torch the 6th-grade-and-under race at the KTCCCA Meet of Champions.  I had some discussions early in the year that involved the question as to which of the Karas sister’s was the better run at that point and there seemed to be question, but that question has been put to rest, at least for now.


Fourth place Hannah Godfrey of Elizabethtown led one of the most surprising stories of the day, though Class AA seems to always have plenty of surprises.  Godfrey has been impressive all year, but against very minimal competition in many cases as Elizabethtown didn’t do much traveling to big meets after competing at the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational in September.  On Saturday, though, they were more than ready to show the state how strong they are, as Godfrey’s 4th-place finish led the way, but sophomore Lexy Hazle also showed well in 14th to earn herself the 2nd team All-State nod.  Amanda Schexneider and Brittany Whitworth followed in 36th and 42nd overall, but 8th-grader Taylor Kuklinski came through with plenty of pressure on her to place 66th and earn E-town the 2nd place spot among the Class AA teams after trailing Boyle County by 1 after four runners.  After not cracking the top five in the rankings all year, this group made us very aware of the importance of being ready on the big day and making the most of it.

After seeing Mercy Academy get eliminated at the regional level last week, the spots behind South Oldham were very wide open, and Boyle County grabbed their first trophy ever in placing 3rd as a team with 148 points.  Led by top twenty finishes from Emma Ditto (11th) and Nikki Coffey (19th), these ladies showed that they are definitely a school with more than just 400 and 800 meter runners.  North Oldham followed up their runner-up performance last year with a strong 4th place showing this year, led by the trio of Ally Hall, Caitlin Beyea, and Shelby Adams, who all finished among the top 40 to secure them another trophy.

-Western Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky both contributed to the individual top 10 with Macy Dyer of East Carter and Aunye Christian of Hopkinsville finishing 9th and 10th overall. Both are just freshman.



The Class AA boys race had plenty of questions surrounding it according to different people from around the state with Lexington Catholic and North Oldham battling for the state title and several individuals chasing Jared Skrabacz of South Warren for the individual title.  Neither race would end up nearly as close as we expected, but let’s talk about the individual race first.

Skrabacz went to the front early with a large pack chasing him, but by the mile he’d put a small gap on the majority with only Taylor Sanders of North Oldham and Jon Renneker of Ashland Blazer really still in contention. Skrabacz didn’t extend his lead much in mile two, but Sanders did make a move here to pass Renneker and move up into position to make a run.  Coming through the exchange, Sanders was still within striking distance of Skrabacz, but it wasn’t his time to win the individual race.  Skrabacz ran like a champion and earned the win and Sanders earned some redemption after his finish last year was one of the many reasons that North Oldham couldn’t claim the team title.

Renneker had another strong day to place 3rd and has more than earned his stripes in the money races over the past two years.  His Ashland Blazer squad was about a 6th-grader away from making it onto the stage to grab some hardware, but they also had another strong year and teammate Brennan Kizziar was impressive in 11th.  Standouts Cory Kleinjan (Spencer County) and Ryan Thurman (Calloway County) rounded out the top five after residing in that range in the individual rankings for much of the year. Webster County’s Jon Ashby showed well in 8th, but the surprise among the top ten was easily the race had by Garrard County’s Josh Stull who placed 9th in 17:04.  If you have heard of Stull, you must be a real statistics junky or live in the region just south of Lexington as Bill Smith does.  Second to West Jessamine’s Todd Yoder at the regional (Yoder finished 16th this weekend), Stull has not been a runner for long and cut two minutes from his season-opening performance this year off of little real training.  The junior may be one to watch going forward and gives hope to every rural runner out there working by themselves.

For North Oldham, things went much like they did two years ago, as they put three individuals in the top 15 and their depth did exactly what was expected of them.  Colin Grandon and Jeremy Rice came through big (7th and 14th) and gained an early lead over the Lexington Catholic squad, while soccer standout Matt Dombrosky all but sealed the title with his 28th place finish.  It was a redemptive win for a squad that is slowly becoming a state power under the tutelage of Coach Drew Lamaster, but their depth will definitely be tested in the coming years as they raced just one underclassman at this year’s finals (Dombrosky).

Lexington Catholic succumbed to plenty of pressure and a rough day from freshman standout Nicholas Laureano, but, beyond that, they just didn’t have the horses this time out even with a perfect performance. Their upperclassmen shined as Michael Johnston, Gavin Knies, and Joe Richey all placed in the top 18 overall, but Laureano, after being up near the front early, faded to 46th place and normal 5th-runner, 8th-grader Jackson Laureano, was a distant 7th for the squad on Saturday, well back form his normal positioning.  It was a long season for the Knights and they definitely returned to the form that we have come to expect out of their school, but this experience will serve them well, as it did North Oldham last season, and after falling to fourth in the team standings, they will definitely return hungry next year.

The biggest surprise on the day had to be the boys from Edmonson County who never entered the conversation for state champions, yet they placed 2nd overall as a team and posted some very impressive statistics en route.  Sophomores Alex Adwell, Kenny Stethen, and Cody Hymer all finished in the top 20 overall themselves, but just 38 seconds after Adwell crossed in 15th overall, juniors Tyler Wilkins and Richard Martin crossed giving the squad an impressive 1-5 spread and the fastest 5th runner in Class AA as well.  Their team average of 17:31 was very solid for a squad that will return their entire top five from this year and coach Brad Meredith deserves a ton of credit for building this program from near irrelevancy just a few years ago.  We will definitely keep an eye on this group next year as they may start the season as the favorite, but track will tell us plenty about how that will go.

Finally, to say that South Oldham was not expected to have a solid showing is like saying that Wal-Mart doesn’t get flooded with people the night before we get snow here in Kentucky.  Stan Clark’s boys always put something together, but they were much less relevant before the late season return of last year’s standout Caleb Chappell, who ended up 31st when the dust cleared.  Austin Pfeifer had a strong showing in 6th, much like last year, and new addition Leonard Faul joined Jeff Law in putting the Dragons in striking position after four runners. The wait was about five seconds too long for 2nd place as freshman James Law crossed in 52nd overall to place South just four spots back of Edmonson County in 3rd.  It was another impressive showing by a team that was not expected to contend after their struggles early in the year and much of that success goes right to Coach Clark in this situation.

-Seven out of the top ten finishers were seniors, while no underclassmen cracked the top ten at all this year.

-(Edit) North Oldham’s Sanders has posted two finishes in the top ten while dealing with injury most of the year led to a 32nd place finish last season. Grandon has been in the top 30 for four years in a row, including top 20 finishes each of the last three years..

-(Edit) 29th place was the first 9th-grader, Mason County's Nick Robinson, and the first middle school athlete was Wayne County’s Trevor Shearer in 57th.