Fayette Co. Championships: Spencer, Florence, and Tates Creek Takes Victories.
The battle for AAA region 6 got a very telling preview on Tuesday evening with the running of the Fayette County Championships at Masterson Station Park. The cool autumn day with little wind made an ideal scenario for runners to drop fast times in what would be a good tune-up for regionals. Aside from Anderson Co., Scott Co., and Woodford Co., the teams that participated in the meet today comprise the entirety of AAA region 6. While coaches and athletes might not have necessarily been focusing their efforts on this race more so than regionals, the meet did tell us one thing: no matter what, the fight for this region will be a closely contested affair.
The girls varsity race started the day off and it saw Olivia Rodrigue jump out to an early lead, bringing in the first mile in 5:56. She was not alone at the top however, as the trio of Lorren Sales, Emma Anderson, and Kara Weaver from Tates Creek were less than 2 seconds behind, and only a second behind them was Abby Florence of Dunbar. The next opportunity I had to see the top runners showed a changing of the guard had taken place somewhere between 1 – 1.5 mile mark. Abby Florence had taken the lead and was beginning to surge away from the pack. She finished strong and took home the win in an official time of 20:15. Behind her, Olivia Rodrigue ran an impressive race still coming back to take second in 20:42 after leading the pack out in the first mile and being passed and back in fourth at one point. The aforementioned trio of Lorren Sales (20:45), Emma Anderson (20:50), and Kara Weaver (20:57) rounded out the top 5. On the team side, Tates Creek walked away with a victory pretty handily with a strong performance up front (3-4-5-8-14). Only a point separated second from third, as Dunbar outran Lafayette 63-64 despite Lafayette having a faster average time. This would give Lafayette a slight advantage in larger races (such as regionals or state…) at the moment, but the battle to make it to state out of this region will definitely be hotly contested with Woodford Co. thrown in the mix and Henry Clay only 4 points behind Lafayette today. With only 4 spots up for grabs, one of those teams will not advance to the State meet and each team will do what it can to make sure they are not the ones left at home on Nov. 10th.
The guys race provided no less excitement from the gun as John Spencer of Lafayette took the race out fast and brought the pack through the mile in 5:07 to open. Close with him was Benjamin Young of Tates Creek and William Keplinger of Dunbar. A larger pack consisting of Kendall Muhammad, Malik Mahmud and Adrian Lyttle lurked behind the leaders, keeping them within striking range. Through 2 miles, Spencer was still unable to break Keplinger as they came through the mile in 10:37 for Spencer and 10:39 for Keplinger. The pack of Lyttle, Muhammad, and Mahmud, still hung about 8 seconds off the leaders. At that point in the race, from a team perspective, it was very clear to see that it was going to be a close three-way battle between Lafayette, Tates Creek, and Dunbar. In the last mile Spencer broke free of the rest of the competition and took the victory in a time of 16:41. Adrian Lyttle really kept his strong pace through that third mile, taking second in 16:50, with Dunbar’s trio of Keplinger (16:53), Muhammad (16:57), and Mahmuh (16:58) rounding out the top 5. As the team race went, it was no different from the girls in that very few points separated several teams. Tates Creek took first place with a score of 37 (2-6-7-8-14) with Dunbar getting runners-up with 40 points (3-4-5-11-17) and Lafayette taking third with 48 points (1-9-10-13-15). Once again, the race saw Dunbar having a lower average time than Tates Creek, making this regionals race in the future look extremely close and exciting to see how it all plays out.
On the day, it was a great event to attend and an even better day to run as the weather could not have been much better. These teams each have two weeks to put in final preparations before the real season begins. We can finally smell November in the air, and with November comes the always exciting races of post season cross country!