The Class AAA Boys competition is always the most fierce individual and team battle in November and 2011 looks to be another year of the same. Last year at the 2010 championship, fans saw the best head to head dual over the last 10 years with Daviess County’s Evan Ehrenheim and Trinity’s Jacob Wildenmann running side by side for three miles with Ehrenheim then pulling away to win. Wildenmann’s second place finish helped lead Trinity to an upset victory which was their 18th state title in school history. That win gave Trinity the record for the most state team titles in Kentucky history.
St. Xavier comes into the 2011 season as the early favorite with a tremendous top two and a ton of depth. Several of their returners had strong track seasons to show their potential for improvement this cross country season. They have been in the same position the last two years with different results each year. They won in 2009 and finished second in 2010. Behind St. Xavier is really a pack of teams that are grouped together. Trinity starts out at #2, but they have to replace four of their top six runners including the state meet runner-up, Wildenmann. Before you go and start feeling sorry for them Trinity is never short on depth. Daviess County could arguably be #2 as well by some accounts. Just like Trinity, they have to replace one of the best in Ehrenheim and also like Trinity they have a solid 2010 #2 who can step into the #1 role. DC has three seniors to help lead this squad and it is Head Coach Tony Rowe’s turn in the winning rotation of the traditional powers (2008 – Daviess County, 2009 – St. Xavier, 2010 – Trinity, 2011 ???.) Butler could be scary good with the best up front duo in the state, but they lack depth in case of an injury. Apollo is another school who has to replace their traditional #1 in Justin House, now at UK. They have a core group of three juniors and two sophomores who stepped up last year. If one or two of that core makes a big jump and becomes a consistent top ten runner this team will become a title contender. The team that most coaches are looking to be the biggest surprise is Eastern. The last two years this team has been building and adding pieces along the way. They have a really strong pack with five that went under 4:44 last spring, but just like Apollo the pack will have to be closer to the front. Meade County, duPont Manual, Oldham County eachhave all been hanging around the 7-10 spot over the last couple years and are looking to become top five candidates. Owensboro is in the process of building a strong group led by junior Zac Garrard.
Top 4 Team Breakdowns
Coming into the 2011 season it looks like the Tigers of St. Xavier are the early favorite to win their 18th team title which would tie Trinity for the most all-time. St. Xavier has a strong duo up front in junior Connor Sheryak and senior Zach Beavin, each are top runners in Class AAA. Sheryak in 2009 was a rarity at St. X as he was a key cog to the 2009 State Championship team when he was only a freshman when most are sitting on the sidelines watching. This season his progression as a runner continues as he becomes one of the top contenders to take home the Class AAA individual title. St. Xavier’s typical advantage of great depth will hold true this season as well. Unlike most years this St. X squad will rely heavily on a strong junior class that saw three sophomores compete last year at the state championship. Beavin and Vincent Stephen are likely to be the only seniors in their top 10. Track season saw solid times ran across the board by possible top five runners, Sam Lewis (4:30), Nick Reader (1:59), and Thomas Cave (1:59.) That depth will allow St. Xavier’s top seven to change multiple times before the final group is chosen to run in November.
They lost four of their top seven runners from last year championship squad but bring back a solid core of runners along with several experienced junior varsity runners. Senior Sam Meredith looks to fill Wildenmann’s shoes in placing in the top five this year after being finishing 10th last year. Sophomore Nick Eckert played a major role for this team as a freshman last season and should be ready for redemption after finishing 89th last year at the state meet. Keegan Raidt was the 5th man at 41st overall for the group last year at the state meet and should look to move into the top 25. Paul Adams, Andrew Ireland, Alex Noel, and Ethan Thomason will look to fill out the rest of the group.
They lost Ehrenheim to graduation and he is now at Southern Illinois University but has consistent Brad Sikes to attempt to fill his shoes. Junior Cameron Quisenberry in his second year of varsity running looks to become the teams #2 runner. This past track season senior Wesley Morris figured something out as he ran 1:58 for the 800m. If that translates over to the 5K watch out. Sophomore Daniel Southard was thrown into the mix last year as a frosh and could be right up there going after the #2 spot. To further prove what could happen at a 5K on August 13th, Southard and senior Luke Atherton were within 15 seconds of Sikes. This teams opens up with the Daviess County 6K Relay, so 5K times will have to wait for a couple weeks.
This is the only team that could arguably have a better top two than St. Xavier. Junior Tretez Kinnaird and sophomore Patrick Gregory both had significant track seasons helping to lead their 3200m Relay team to the Class AAA state title. Kinnaird is coming off an extended track season where he earned All-American honors in the 800m Run and participated in the World Youth Championships in France. Gregory finished second overall in the 1600m Run with solid nationally ranked freshmen time of 4:20. Consistent Allen Matthews is back, along with David Bruce and Joey Hartlage. Bruce has battled injuries at times over the last two years and if completely healthy can put this team over the top. Developing depth is a big need for this team especially with Tretez and Gregory both being underclassmen.