Make room for one more runner in the upper echelon of Kentucky cross-country.
After entering the season as a second-tier talent who had never approached the 16-minute mark, Eastern High School’s Kyle Covert has cut more than a minute off his personal record and put together a string of remarkable performances in the last six weeks that has vaulted him to the top of Class AAA.
At last Saturday’s Region Four meet at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, Covert took first – ahead of top-ranked Luke Weishaar (15:52.68) of Oldham County – and led the Eagles to their first-ever regional team title in cross-country.
Eastern placed three runners in the top-6 and finished with 30 points. Trinity (39) and Oldham County (62) were second and third, respectively.
Covert’s time of 15:41.01, a new PR, was sixth-fastest in the state this season and was also the best time in any regional meet.
“He’s got a lot of ability,” said Eastern coach Mike Horan. “Over the last year he’s gotten a little more focused, a little more intense.”
Since joining the cross-country team as a sophomore, Covert has been chasing stars like Weishaar, Connor Sheryak of St. Xavier and Patrick Gregory of Butler, but this season he has taken his place alongside them.
“I think last year he did a lot of the work to be one of the elite guys in the state, but he just never had the race that showed everybody else how good he was,” said Horan. “The mental and the physical stuff have come together and he’s progressed.”
After a strong showing (16:05.70, 18th) at the Culver Academy Invitational (Ind.) in late August, Covert placed third (15:53.09) at the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 1 and broke the 16-minute barrier for the first time.
Two weeks later, he was runner-up at the Lexington Catholic Invitational where he covered the challenging course at the Kentucky Horse Park in 16:13.85 and finished just five seconds behind winner Jacob Thomson of Holy Cross.
Then, at the JCPS Championships on Oct. 26, Covert led from start to finish and posted a 15:51.43 for his first career win. The Eagles also took the team title, another first for the program.
For Covert it was the thought of that first win that motivated him to up his level of commitment in his final season.
“Last year I wasn’t that smart about my training and I didn’t really care as much as I do now,” said Covert. “Running cross-country and not being able to win just got to me. I wasn’t even considered a threat to anybody and I didn’t like that.”
This Saturday Covert will see if he can ride a wave of momentum to a state title as he heads to Lexington for the KHSAA State Cross Country Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Covert is the top seed, followed by No. 2 Sheryak of St. X, who ran a 15:42.34 to win Region Three, and No. 3 Sam Lewis, also of St. X, who posted a second-place time of 15:44.52.
While Covert prefers a flat course, he is prepared for the hilly landscape at the Horse Park. “I’m not the best at hills, but this year I feel like I’ve gotten better and don’t really mind them as much,” he said.
“It’s anybody’s race this year and I’m going to give it everything I can to win.”
Class AAA, Region Four Girls
Assumption placed five runners in the top-7 and easily took their sixth-straight regional crown. Katherine Receveur (18:48.51) and Emily Bean (18:58.52) ran 1-2 for the Rockets followed by Oldham County’s Margaret Grogan (19:10.79) and Caroline Grogan (19:15.84), who took third and fourth, respectively.
Kenzley Defler (19:23.48), Caroline McCaslin (19:25.52) and Kate Crawford (19:33.27) of Assumption rounded out the top seven.
Assumption, ranked No. 13 in the country by the National High School Coaches Association, finished with 21 points, followed by Oldham County (51) and Sacred Heart (52). All three teams advanced to the State Meet.
KHSAA State Cross Country Championship Schedule, Saturday, Nov. 12:
Boys, 9:30 a.m.
Girls, 10:15 a.m.
Boys, 11:30 a.m.
Girls, 12:15 p.m.
Boys, 1:30 p.m.
Girls, 2:15 p.m.
In front of a record crowd of 2,927 fans St. Xavier beat Ryle 3-0 to capture the boys’ state soccer title last Saturday at Paul Dunbar High School in Lexington. It was the Tigers’ 11th title and seventh in the last 12 years.
St. X (27-1-1) got a goal from Mitchell Metzger just 4:47 into the match and second-half goals from Neil Henley and Danny Belza to secure their 26th straight win.
Senior goalkeeper Nathan James also came up with several crucial saves in the final and was named the tournament’s most valuable player for his efforts.
Belza, Henley and James were named to the All-Tournament Team for St. X.
Sacred Heart conceded a goal in each half and came up short in their bid for a fifth state title, falling to Notre Dame 2-0 Saturday night at Paul Dunbar.
The Valkyries (13-11-3) leveled just one shot on frame while the Pandas (24-3) fired eight, including goals from Chandler Clark in the 25th minute and Ellyn Abdelghany in the 69th minute.
Eleanor Gabriel, Lauren Brewer and Sara Herbert were named to the All-Tournament Team for Sacred Heart.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.
Category: High School Sports Report