Varsity Girls Race
The weather today was perfect for racing: The temperature was cool, without being cold; I would guess around mid-60’s and sunny for the girls varsity race. A light wind was blowing across the course.
The start went off without a problem, it was fortunate no one fell in the first 100 yards, because in that first stretch it goes down, then up, and bottlenecks at the top of the first hill. In the beginning of the race, Highlands was the dominant force. At about the half mile, Highlands’ 6th runner was in 17thst; St. Henry was looking strong with 3 runners in the top 20, and the rest not far behind; Ursuline Academy had 1st and 4th, and then a pack of 3 runners sitting around 20th. Highlands Girls had taken a strong position from the get go.
The one mile mark looked about the same. The first 6 runners came through at about 6:15 in a pack- Highlands, Ursuline, Ursuline, Scott, St. Henry, St. Henry. Highlands’ 6th girl was in 21st with another pack consisting of Ursuline Academy’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th girls; and St. Henry’s 4th girl. Highlands had a strong team position, and Ursuline had a strong top two girls. St. Henry looked solidly in third as a team.
However, the second mile really shook things up. Ursuline Academy’s Christine Frederick came through at 12:25, followed by her teammate, Catherine Finke 11 seconds behind at 13:26, and Molly Mearns with Highlands coming through at 12:38. St. Henry’s top two girls, Sam Hentz and Taylor Connett were together at 12:58 in 5th and 6th places. Highlands next runner was in 8th at 13:04. After her came St. Henry’s third runner, and two Ursuline runners in 12th and 13th place.
Christine Frederick crushed the last mile, and came through the finish at 18:44. Her teammate Catherine Finke was the second place runner, 31 seconds later. Molly Mearns was shortly behind her, finishing with a time of 19:21. The final results showed Ursuline crushing the competition, putting all 7 girls in the top 21 places. St. Henry took second with runners placing 4th, 7th, 12th, 20th, and 26th. Highlands Girls had two girls drop out due to injury, leaving them in third place with 3rd, 6th, 15th, 14th, and 39th. Later when commenting on the race, Highlands’ head coach Brian Alessandro said that in light of injuries and some of the girls running in the middle school race, he thought third place was a solid accomplishment for the weekend.
Varsity Boys Race-
By the start of the boys race, some cloud cover had blown in to overcast the meet, dropping the temperature just a few degrees. Rain threatened, and a few drops fell, but nothing significant: just a cool, shady race with a light wind.
To start the race, Eric Baugh from Villa Madonna took the lead. He lead the first mile at 5:02, with Michael Caldwell from Bishop Brossart right on his heels. Seconds behind them was Zachary Stewart from Cooper High School.
As far as team performance goes, Cooper looked untouchable from the get go. At the mile they had runners 1-4 in the top 10. But surprisingly, Highlands’ boys weren’t far behind. The top two runners came through the mile in 5th and 9th places, then their third runner in 22nd next to Cooper’s 5th man. Coopers 6th man was running in 25th with a pack of Highlands’ 4th, 5th, and 6th boys all shortly behind him.
In the second mile, Stewart took the lead, with Michael Caldwell still sitting right behind him in second place; they came through the 2 mile at 10:28. Baugh had fallen back a couple seconds from those two.
In the team race, Cooper still had a powerful position for their top 4 runners, currently their top 4 boys were in places 1, 4, 5, and 8. However, Highland boys made a huge move in the second mile. Lead by Ethan Shuley and John Michael Griffeth surrounding Cooper’s 4th man in 7th and 9th places, their 3rd, 4th, and 5th men had all passed Cooper’s 5th place runner. Highlands 3-5 now held spots 13, 16, and 20; while their 6th man in 26th place was right behind Cooper’s 5th man.
The third mile made all the difference in the lead pack. Caldwell came through the finish in a crushing 15:50.9. He opened a 12 second gap between himself and Stewart, who took 2nd place in 16:03.0. Following them Baugh barely held onto 3rd place, coming in at 16:17.0. Mitchell Greenhalf from Cooper had nearly managed to close the 10 second gap that had separated Baugh and himself at the 2 mile mark, and finished at 16:18.7.
In the team competition, Highlands’ boys stunning performance was unable to break Cooper’s four man combo. Highlands had managed to put their 5th man in front of Cooper’s 5th, but that wasn’t enough to beat Cooper’s strong top 4. Cooper won the meet with 45 points, their top 5 taking 2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th, and 24th. Highlands’ boys had the depth cooper was lacking, but not the speed. They finished 2nd as a team with 68 points, taking places 5, 9, 16, 17, 21, and 30 with their top 6 runners.
Highlands Boys Head Coach Brian Alessandro said, when speaking of the boys performance “That was actually the best performance that we’ve had in probably 10 years and- like I said- we just started workouts (this week).” With this start, he hopes that the boys’ team will be able to compete with Cooper in the future, and even possibly with North Oldham and Covington Catholic when November rolls around. Cooper’s Coach, Eric Laningham is pleased with the performance his boys did today, but recognizes that the team still needs a fifth man. When talking after the race he said “5th guy will find himself, whoever that is, and I think we’ll have a very, very good year.”