The Kentucky State Cross Country Meet is here, a season of running is getting ready to come to end with a day chalked full of great racing and matchups. Let's take a look at the six races and see what is going to happen.
CHECK BACK THIS AFTERNOON FOR CLASS AA & CLASS AAA
CLASS A GIRLS:
"Going for the Win"
This has to be the most interesting girls individual race out of the three. Coming into the season the easy pick was on three-time defending champion Maddox Patterson. The Sayre sophomore ran into a different type of opponent this season than another runner, a bout of sickness. She was knocked out of the last half of the season, reappearing at the Region 5 Championship last week. She bounced back enough to finish second behind Megan Smith of Danville. Second place is enough to make her a threat to take the title for the fourth year in a row especially with another week to gain her strength back.
Patterson will face competition from three other runners this Saturday. The first year XC runner Smith, the up and comer Karly Gawarecki, and her teammate, Philippine Couterier. Gawarecki, the sophomore from Holy Cross in Louisville comes in ranked #1 in Class A. She is coming off a win at the Lexington Catholic Invitational over Smith and Couterier on October 20th. Her 19:14 was good enough to beat Smith by six seconds.
Look for the race to be a close one with the front four packed together fighting each other to the end with someone trying to pull away before the two mile mark.
St. Henry lost six of their top seven runners from last year's state championship team. They came into the season at the tail end of the KYtrackXC.com Pre-Season Class A Top 10, but neither of those matter. Coach Tony Harden's girls are looking to win again and will face competition from Bishop Brossart and Holy Cross along the way. The St. Henry girls brought back Samantha Hentz (last week's regional champion), but added middle distance runner Taylor Connett this fall. Connett has been as solid as you can expect from a first year XC runner, stepping up to lead the team as #1 most of the year. St. Henry won their own invitational over Bishop Brossart by overloading their pack with Connett, Hentz, Holly Blades, and Abby Doellman all coming in before Brossart's first girl. Last week at the regional only two of the St. Henry girls got in front of Brossart #1 Olivia Nienaber. The gap was 26 points between the two squads in the small regional setting, at state if Hentz and Connett both place in the top 10 and Brossart does not have anyone come in until 15th advantage St. Henry. If Brossart can bring in their pack up before 25th they stand a chance against the Crusaders.
Holy Cross and Gawarecki were also at that same St. Henry Invitational coming in third amongst Class A schools behind Brossart. Mid-season addition MaKenzie Bolus, made a huge strides toward the very end of the season even beating Gawarecki at Bardstown the last week of the season. They need a big race out of her and Jenna Johnston to take down St. Henry. Watch out for Fairview as a darkhorse in this race. The 2010 State XC Champs are a veteran squad that barely missed out on winning state last year finishing just four points behind.
Class A Boys
"Going for the Win"
Jacob Thomson, Jacob Thomson, Jacob Thomson...... he is racing the clock in a sense this weekend. The national elite runner is going after the Kentucky State Record on the new Horse Park course of 15:33. He already has the fastest time on the course during the regular season with a 15:29 at Lexington Catholic on October 20th. This race by the Holy Cross senior is definitely one to watch.
St. Henry's boys have long dominated the competition in Class A winning every year since 2002. They came into the season with #1 Daniel Wolfer and a relatively young and inexperienced crew around him. The team has stepped up and has stayed #1 all year long with big improvements made by #2 Josh Hannon and #3 Michael Ridilla. Their closest competition all year long as been from #2 Walton Verona. The WV boys brought it last week at the Region 4 Championship falling to St. Henry 53-57. They got a huge race out of Joe Rider who came in third behind Wolfer by only two seconds. If Verona's 2-4 can surround Ridilla like they did last week this race will become very interesting scoring wise and very close. St. Henry needs some a scoring gap between Wolfer and Rider to help make the path easier.
Don't sleep on Holy Cross with Thomson scoring a big 1 point or a front two (Josh Grogan & Zach Hudspeth) loaded team like Heath either.