Sam Lewis, a senior on the St. Xavier cross-country team, describes his squad’s twice-monthly Cherokee Park hill training as the hardest thing he’s ever done. But the dreaded workouts paid off last Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington as the Tigers pulled away on the inclines to bring home a second straight Class 3-A crown at the KHSAA State Meet.
After a clustered first mile, St. X’s top five, along with eventual winner Chase Geary of Muhlenberg County and runner up Patrick Gregory of Butler, broke away.
“We wanted to go out slow, work through the crowd and by the time we got to the 2-mile mark, be in control of the race,” said Tigers coach Chuck Medley, whose runners finished 3-4-5-6-7. “The hills separated them.”
Scoring in order for St. X were Lewis (third, 16:17.84), Nick Reader (16:23.72), Christopher Striege (16:24.76), Connor Sheryak (16:27.71) and Max Mudd (16:28.29).
The Tigers’ 20 points tied the State Meet low. Trinity (87) was second, followed by Daviess County (145).
St. X now holds a 19-18 edge over Trinity in all-time team titles.
To no one’s surprise, the top-ranked girls from Assumption coasted to their third consecutive 3-A win in dominant fashion. Bailey Davis became the Rockets’ first individual state champion when she crossed the line at 18 minutes, 12.72 seconds.
Davis entered this year’s meet as the top-ranked girl in Kentucky.
“Being ranked No. 1, it was a whole lot of pressure and I really didn’t like it,” said Davis, who was runner up last year.
According to Assumption coach Barry Haworth, Davis has developed a frontrunner’s mentality.
“She doesn’t hang back like she did last year,” Haworth said. “She runs races to win.”
Rounding out the Rockets’ scorers were Emily Bean (third, 18:43.27), Katherine Receveur (fourth, 18:47.85), Kenzley Defler (ninth, 19:11.75) and Kate Crawford (14th, 19:51.71).
Bowling Green was a distant second with 78 points, followed by Sacred Heart with 101.
Thomson Breaks Record
Holy Cross’ Jacob Thomson delivered a record-breaking performance in the Class-A boys’ race, coming in at 15:21.40, nearly 12 seconds faster than the previous “paddock course” record of 15:33.24 set by Daviess County’s Evan Ehrenheim in 2010.
Thomson, who led wire to wire, had hoped for even more.
“I wanted to put (the record) out of reach. That’s what I was going for,” said the uncommitted senior, ranked No. 6 in the country by MileSplit.us. “I think it will take somebody a real long time to get to it, but it’s definitely touchable.”
Other local top-10 finishers in the girls’ race were Sacred Heart’s Maggie Allen (sixth, 18:58.33), Oldham County’s Caroline Grogan (seventh, 18:59.67) and 2011 champion Cassidy Hale of Manual (eighth, 19:09.48).
Muhlenberg County’s Chase Geary won the boy’s race in 15:58.66.
“Coming up that second mile I knew I had to take the lead or they’d out-kick me and I guess I ran away with it,” said the junior.
Butler’s Patrick Gregory was second at 16:14.39.
Trinity, led by Derrich Stauble (12th, 16:44.78) and Keegan Raidt (13th, 16:47.08), took second.
Collins eighth-grader Gabby Karas repeated as girls’ champion in 17 minutes, 44.18 seconds and broke the course record of 18:11.92 set by her sister, Catarina, in 2010.
Highlands placed three runners in the top eight to snap South Oldham’s four-year championship streak.
“Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you,” said South’s Grace Whitworth, whose sixth-place finish (19:47.80) led the runner-up Lady Dragons. “I’m just thankful that we’ve had a great team.”
Lexington Catholic’s Nicholas Laureano took the boys’ race in 16 minutes, 41.98 seconds, ahead of Logan County’s Sye Head (16:53.58) and South Oldham freshman Tanner Dowdy (16:59.63).
North Oldham’s Luke Tarvestad finished 11th (17:17.71) and the Mustangs won a third year in a row. Nolan Ruhs (17:33.00) and Luke Cummins (17:38.02) were North’s other top-20 finishers.
Danville’s Meagan Smith clocked a time of 19:16.39 to win the girls’ race. Holy Cross’ Karly Gawarecki finished second at 19:37.44 and Maddox Patterson of Sayre, the three-time defending champion, was third (19:53.13).
St. Henry won its second straight team title and fifth in six years, placing five runners in the top 26 for a total of 62 points. Holy Cross, led by Gawarecki and Macenzie Bolus (14th, 21:01.36), was fourth with 136.
Thomson finished more than a minute ahead of runner up Nick Waltman of Sayre (16:22.94) in the boys’ race. Collegiate’s Matt Bode, the fastest sophomore in any class, took third in 16:27.34.
St. Henry placed two runners in the top 10 for its 11th title in a row. DeSales, led by Nico Casper (34th, 18:00.56) was sixth, followed by seventh-place Holy Cross.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.