Memphis Twilight: BG/DC Girls Showdown, Patrick Gregory 3rd


Everything was hot in Memphis on Saturday night.  The weather, the barbecue, and the cross country course at Mike Rose Soccer Complex were all steamy.  Nevertheless, the fast, flat course produced some outstanding races and some good early season times.


Although it wasn’t quite as hot in southwest Tennessee as it was in Kentucky, thanks to some cloud cover provided by Tropical Storm Lee, it was still very warm when the racing began.   The atmosphere was electric, with a live band on site playing classic rock from the 70s and 80s.   High School and College teams from several states were on hand, including teams from Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Mississippi, in addition to Tennessee and Kentucky.


The course loops around lighted soccer fields, and the races finish with a loop inside a usually full stadium.  The course is very spectator-friendly.   The runners love the environment, running much of the races through a 10 foot wide path lined with hundreds of fans on either side.  


At the start of the JV girls race, it seemed that half the field was from Notre Dame Academy.   Veronica Lyle, from Hewitt-Trussville (AL) ran out to a big lead and held it.  Sydney Lenhof of Notre Dame held second for most of the race, finising in 22:42.   Deborah Flynn of Bowling Green (22:45) held onto third for most of the race until nipped by her teammate Rebekah Ozburn at the finish (22:43).  Jessica Payne from Daviess County also ran very well, finishing in 23:21.   Notre Dame placed four more girls in the top 12, with Sara Borchers, Katie Ramburger, Catriona Shaughnessy and Alexa Colvin helping carry the NDA girls to victory.  They were later spotted dancing in front of the live band in celebration.


The JV boys looked like a packing exercise for aspiring runners from several teams.  Groups of three, four or five runners from different teams ran together throughout the entire race.  Very fun to watch.  The leaders in the JV race ran side-by-side for almost the entire race.  The first finisher from Kentucky was Austin Moran from Butler in 19:22, leading  Butler to third among JV boys. 


For Kentucky cross country fans, the varsity girls race very exciting.   Abbey Dixon of West Memphis Christian grabbed the lead early and held it, but her lead shrank considerably as the finish approached, with Whitney O’Bryan from Daviess County finishing a close second in 18:56.   For much of the race, Daviess County had four girls in the top 10 and appeared in control.  Behind Whitney were Abby Eades in 8th, who ran a big PR of 19:34, Amelia Reynolds in 9th (19:40), Claire Payne in 16th (20:00), and Emily Leach in 46th (21:17).     Bowling Green made a big charge in the last mile to take the team title.   Van Games led a purple line of runners into the stadium, finishing 11th (19:45), followed by Ciara Scott 13th (19:48), Lauren Wheeler 15th (19:54), Sara-Emily Woodward 18th (20:08), and Britney Hansen in 22nd (20:14).    The final 2 point margin (67-69) was a bit closer than many expected.   Kentuckians dominated the race, with 9 runners in the top 20.   Notre Dame also made a good early-season showing, finishing fifth out of 36 teams, led by Carly Scheper (20:56). 


The Varsity boys race was also good, with Patrick Gregory challenging for the lead in the first half of the race.  Will Aenchbacher of Bentonville HS won the race in 15:45, thirty seconds slower than DC’s Evan Ehrenheim’s 15:15 in 2010.  Gregory ended up third in 15:58, but was closing on second place at the line.   Zac Garrard of Owensboro finished 11th after a strong start, in 16:54, followed closely by Allen Matthews of Butler in 16:56, in 14th.   Luke Atherton (17:02) and Daniel Southard (17:14) led DC to third place among the boys behind Bentonville, AR and Cordova HS out of Memphis.