Sam Lewis, a senior on the St. Xavier cross-country team, describes his squadâ€™s twice-monthly Cherokee Park hill training as the hardest thing heâ€™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. Xâ€™s top five, along with eventual winner Chase Geary of Muhlenberg County and runner up Patrick Gregory of Butler, broke away.
â€œWe 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,â€ said Tigers coach Chuck Medley, whose runners finished 3-4-5-6-7. â€œThe hills separated them.â€
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 Tigersâ€™ 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 oneâ€™s surprise, the top-ranked girls from Assumption coasted to their third consecutive 3-A win in dominant fashion. Bailey Davis became the Rocketsâ€™ first individual state champion when she crossed the line at 18 minutes, 12.72 seconds.
Davis entered this yearâ€™s meet as the top-ranked girl in Kentucky.
â€œBeing ranked No. 1, it was a whole lot of pressure and I really didnâ€™t like it,â€ said Davis, who was runner up last year.
According to Assumption coach Barry Haworth, Davis has developed a frontrunnerâ€™s mentality.
â€œShe doesnâ€™t hang back like she did last year,â€ Haworth said. â€œShe runs races to win.â€
Rounding out the Rocketsâ€™ 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 Crossâ€™ Jacob Thomson delivered a record-breaking performance in the Class-A boysâ€™ race, coming in at 15:21.40, nearly 12 seconds faster than the previous â€œpaddock courseâ€ record of 15:33.24 set by Daviess Countyâ€™s Evan Ehrenheim in 2010.
Thomson, who led wire to wire, had hoped for even more.
â€œI wanted to put (the record) out of reach. Thatâ€™s what I was going for,â€ said the uncommitted senior, ranked No. 6 in the country by MileSplit.us. â€œI think it will take somebody a real long time to get to it, but itâ€™s definitely touchable.â€
Other local top-10 finishers in the girlsâ€™ race were Sacred Heartâ€™s Maggie Allen (sixth, 18:58.33), Oldham Countyâ€™s Caroline Grogan (seventh, 18:59.67) and 2011 champion Cassidy Hale of Manual (eighth, 19:09.48).
Muhlenberg Countyâ€™s Chase Geary won the boyâ€™s race in 15:58.66.
â€œComing up that second mile I knew I had to take the lead or theyâ€™d out-kick me and I guess I ran away with it,â€ said the junior.
Butlerâ€™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 girlsâ€™ 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 Oldhamâ€™s four-year championship streak.
â€œSometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you,â€ said Southâ€™s Grace Whitworth, whose sixth-place finish (19:47.80) led the runner-up Lady Dragons. â€œIâ€™m just thankful that weâ€™ve had a great team.â€
Lexington Catholicâ€™s Nicholas Laureano took the boysâ€™ race in 16 minutes, 41.98 seconds, ahead of Logan Countyâ€™s Sye Head (16:53.58) and South Oldham freshman Tanner Dowdy (16:59.63).
North Oldhamâ€™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 Northâ€™s other top-20 finishers.
Danvilleâ€™s Meagan Smith clocked a time of 19:16.39 to win the girlsâ€™ race. Holy Crossâ€™ 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 boysâ€™ race. Collegiateâ€™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.