The day will begin with the smallest schools of the all on Saturday with the Class A Kentucky State Cross Country Meets. The boys lead off at 9:30 am when the weather will be at its coolest sitting below 50 degrees.
The boy’s race gives us two of the best runners in Kentucky going head to head. Holy Cross’s Jacob Thomson leads the field with Sayre’s Nicholas Waltman playing the role of chaser. Thomson has made quite a bit of noise on the national scene with a runner-up finish at the Artesian Classic in Indiana and a third place finish at the Great American Cross Country Festival with a career best time of 15:02. Thomson is looking for his first career cross country state after already taking four Class A track state titles. Last fall he looked to be the favorite but was knocked out by an illness mid-season, but still came back to finish runner-up with teammate Dominic Perronie taking the win.
Thomson should handle the race from the start setting a fast pace as he will probably try to take the Kentucky State Record of 15:33 set by Daviess County’s Evan Ehrenheim in 2010. For this to happen he will need Waltman, a sophomore to be close through at least the two mile. Waltman should not be discounted in this race at all; he has developed into one of the best and would be a legit threat to win either Class AA or AAA. Thomson and Waltman have competed against one another in several big races this year (Tiger Run, Trinity Invitational, and Great American Cross Country Festival.) All of these large races had big front packs and are hard to compare to the one on one showdown of the Class A State Championship. Like I said Waltman is one of the best, but Thomson has been running on another level and should pull away before the two mile mark to win. For Thomson to take down the record he will need Waltman to be at his best challenging the 16 minute barrier on the tough terrain of the Kentucky Horse Park.
Behind Thomson and Waltman will be the race for third. St. Henry’s Daniel Wolfer, Burgin’s Alexander Beckerson, and Somerset’s Austin Adams all look like solid picks to be in the next group. Wolfer is attempting to lead St. Henry to their tenth state title in a row. Adams runs mainly races in the southeastern end of the state, but has shown he brings it when it matters. Look at last year’s state championship when he finished fourth overall in what was probably the biggest surprise of the race. Beckerson is veteran who is time tested, who is back to the level of his freshman year before injuries derailed him last year. At the Lexington Catholic Invitational on October 16th Wolfer bested Beckerson and Adams.
Typically St. Henry and their great depth are the overwhelming favorites. The same holds true this year, but they have a foe of old back to challenge them. Out of the far west comes St. Mary. A program that is strong with tradition that had continued its winning ways in the west but had not been able to make noise as a top five team even with great runners such as Matthew Shoulta and James Maglasang in the fold. St. Henry has the advantage up front with the already mentioned Wolfer and #2 man Brendan Dooley in the top 10. St. Mary will look to have #1 man, Nathan Ellis come across the line before 15th place with developing freshman Paul West following. The battle will lay in the 3, 4, and 5 runners. Cameron Rohmann, Zack Haacke, Nathan Mark, were twenty one seconds back of Dooley at the regional. If Dooley is in the top ten and the gap is that close, this race is over. The above mentioned depth of St. Henry’s is usually able to hammer people with a 6-7 combo that crosses the line before the second places team’s #5 helping to further the scoring gap between the teams. This year St. Mary and their senior loaded pack should be able to put their pack in before St. Henry’s seven cross. The key to St. Mary challenging for the win will be two through six. These runners have rotated positions multiple times this season and could have less than ten seconds between them if they run like they have during the season.
Collegiate, Bishop Brossart, and Newport Central Catholic will all threaten to be in the top five as well. These teams are all strong through four with not one having a fifth man under 18 this season which hurt them getting ahead of St. Henry or St. Mary.