Class AA Region 3 Recap
In recent history, the AA Region 3 race has produced some of the fiercest competition and many state champions. On the girl’s side, for the past 4 years, both the team and individual state champion has come from this region. South Oldham has been at the top of the podium as a team since 2008, with Jessie Murner of South Oldham winning in 2008, Christian Academy’s Jenna Rogers winning in 2009, and for the past two years, the Karas family has kept the individual trophy over their mantle with Caterina in 2010, and Gabby in 2011. For the boys, North Oldham has won the team title in 2008, 2010, and 2011, with South Oldham being the winners in 2009. Throw in state champions in Jacob Law (2008) and Taylor Sanders (2011) and the region has been a dominant force throughout AA competition for many years. I say all this to emphasize the fact that strong performances within this region are not to be overlooked and historically bode well for the fortunes of those winners in the following week.
The girl’s race was the first to start the day off and right from the gun, the race favorite in Gabby Karas was out to the front and leading the way. Coming through the mile in a blistering 5:42 (compare that to the lead pack of guys, mentioned later) and well out in front of the rest of the competition. Behind her though, the race was unfolding in dramatic fashion. A large pack that included, Erin Edmundson of North Oldham, Brianna Wolken of Mercy, Hannah Herd of Christian Academy, and Grace Whitworth, Keightly Dudgeon, and Erin Wilson of South Oldham came through the first mile in about 6:11. While Gabby was completely dominant in her performance today, the race behind her was especially exciting to watch. Coming out of the Renaissance Park section of the course, the pack was loosely broken up, but still together with Edmundson and Wolken slightly out ahead of the trio from South Oldham and Herd hanging on close behind. Gabby continued to lead the way through the 2 mile (which was at a remote part of the course, so no splits were taken there) and with about 1K to go all but sealed up her first regional title. The pack behind her saw Edmundson and Wolken gain about a second advantage on the contingent of South runners, but second place was still anyone’s for the taking. Gabby Karas took any doubt in her victory away by dropping a time of 18:09 (I’m not even sure how hard she pressed on that last mile…) in muddy, rainy, and cold conditions. Heading through the wooded area and back up to the finish line, it was Edmundson and Wolken who had broken away and were battling for the runner-up plague. In the last 20 meters, Wolken put a final kick in and finished in 19:29 slightly ahead of Edmundson’s 19:30. Wilson came in 4th with a 19:37, followed by Whitworth in 19:39 and Dudgeon in 19:56. A big question before the meet was “how many teams would make it out of this loaded region?”. In recent years a number of times, teams in the top 10 within the state have been left at home because the region didn’t field enough teams. This year, 10 full girls squads toed the line, allowing 5 teams to advance. The regional team battle was won by South Oldham with a score of 53 (4-5-6-15-23). The team runners-up were North Oldham with 70 (3-9-14-17-27). Third went to Bullitt East with 82 (10-11-18-21-22) and fourth was Mercy with 104 (2-8-19-37-38). Anyone closely following the race knew that it was going to be a toss-up between CAL and Presentation for the final state qualifying spot and unless Rain Man was in the crowd, the race was too tight to call on the spot based on finishing places. When the announcement was made it was CAL who had edged out Presentation 135 (7-20-33-35-40) – 138 (12-13-16-47-50). The individual qualifiers for the state meet were Gabby Karas, Courtney Carrico, Caroline Gosser, Emily Flaherty, and Sinead Maharry.
After the girls had their turn on the course, it was the boy’s time to see who had put their work in and earn their spot on the line at the Horse Park. As a competitor in this same race for 3 years, and reporting on it again last year, I can say that this particular year’s regional race was one of the more unusual that I have witnessed. More so than any other year, it was a very pack-oriented race, not only up front, but behind the leaders as well. The first group through the mile was loaded with 6 runners coming through in 5:26 (historically, a rather conservative opening pace for this race). The opening group consisted 3 packs of 2 teammates in Tanner and Cole Dowdy of South Oldham, Luke Tarvestad and Luke Cummins of North Oldham, and Devon Fielding and Jay Solinger of Collins. This same group pretty much went back and forth and interchanged places from before I saw them at the mile marker, until a little ways after the 2-mile marker where the leaders emerged in Luke Tarvestad and Tanner Dowdy with Devon Fielding slightly behind the other two. With about half a mile to go, Fielding had begun his long drive to not only make up the short distance between himself and the other two, but to pass them. Tarvestad gave him the strongest competition, but ultimately, Fielding took home the win in a time of 16:56 to Tarvestad’s runner-up time of 16:58. Tanner Dowdy took 3rd with a 17:01, Luke Cummins was 4th with a 17:14 and the 5th spot went to Jay Solinger in 17:19. Like the girls, 10 full teams made it to the line on allowing 5 teams to advance to state. The regional champions was the team from North Oldham with 33 points (2-4-6-8-13), an impressive score considering they decided to sit out Trenton Fryman, David Terkula, and David Gardiner (all sub scorers at one point for this team and all sub 17:00 runners). But with their depth, taking those runners out still didn’t affect their final placing. The regional runners-up was Collins with 57 points (1-5-11-12-28), third went to South Oldham with 67 (3-7-15-17-25), fourth was Bullitt East with 97 (10-18-22-23-24), and again the final spot went to CAL with 117 points (9-21-27-29-31). Going to state individually is Tom Mayfield, Marcus Grady, Travis O’Dell, Alex Dunn, and Logan Hull.
I always make a point to ask if I can cover this meet in particular, for two reasons. One, being able to come back and watch a meet in which I used to be a competitor always makes me understand that the more things change, the more they truly stay the same. The competition is no less fierce on the course, and the opposing teams no less friendly off it. And two, watching this meet is a guaranteed way to make me want to put a jersey on and jump right in with old teammates and friends (literally told my old coach I wish I could…) and gets me completely hyped for the state meet. For the fan in this upcoming week, you either love cross-country, or you LOVE cross-country.