A cold rain didn't dampen the victory celebrations of Paul Laurence Dunbar's boys and Woodford County's girls at the Class 3A, Region 6 cross country meet at Masterson Station on Saturday.
John Spencer of Lafayette and Mia Cornette of Woodford County were the individual winners.
The boys' team competition was too close to call. Dunbar edged Tates Creek and Lafayette, but the Bulldogs didn't know they had won until it was announced at the awards ceremony.
"We were trying to count points, but it was so close we didn't know for sure," Dunbar Coach Chris Flores said.
The Bulldogs, led by William Keplinger's runner-up finish, won by five points over Tates Creek, which clipped Lafayette by a single point.
"That's the way it's been all season, really close," Keplinger said. "It's been kind of frustrating because we lost to Tates Creek in their invitational and in the city. So to finally beat them is great."
Dunbar's Malik Mahmud ran fourth, Kendall Muhammad sixth, Joseph Ash 11th and Elijah Olige 15th.
"Definitely a whole team effort," Flores said. "I told every single guy that every spot would matter today, and they came through."
Spencer won in relatively easy fashion, covering the 5,000 meters in 16:42.18, 11 seconds ahead of Keplinger.
It was a much more enjoyable region for Spencer than last year, when he was cut on the leg by the spikes of a fallen runner, suffered a cramp and finished seventh.
The Lafayette junior had been experiencing hip pain the last couple weeks, but he didn't feel any on Saturday. He established an early lead and never relinquished it.
"I was fairly mentally tough today and had a good confidence level," he said. "I just went out there and ran."
Tates Creek took second in the boys' race thanks to strong showings from Ben Hart (third), Benjamin Young (fifth), Adrian Lyttle (seventh) and Nick McGee (ninth).
Lafayette had six runners in the top 14 — Spencer, Dimitri Leggas (eighth), Tucker Stofer (10th), Douglas Burris (12th), Johnny Smith (13th) and Brian Rugg (14th).
Cornette repeated as girls' champ, but in different school colors. She won as a sophomore at Lafayette last year, but has since moved to Woodford County.
Before last year's region, Cornette admitted to being a nervous wreck. She said she was "freaking out" again Friday night, and her dad and coaches "had to keep me cool. But it was more fun this year. It wasn't as serious."
Cornette won in 19:40.73, 12 seconds ahead of Dunbar's Abby Florence.
Besides Cornette, Woodford County got a big lift from Adira Jarman (fourth) and Kylie Mink (seventh). Also finishing strong for the Yellowjackets were Janet Dake (11th) and Meredith Davis (16th).
"I thought everything fell into place today," Woodford County Coach Brooke Stickel said. "We trained all season not really worried about other meets. We just wanted to use them as tune-ups to get to the state."
While most runners were annoyed with the nasty conditions, Florence was delighted. "I love cold, rainy weather," the Dunbar senior said. "I was excited."
It showed when she had a burst of energy at the finish line to barely beat Lafayette's Olivia Rodrigue.
"I don't know how it happened," Florence said. "But somehow my legs went faster."
The top four teams, and top five invididuals not on those four teams, qualify for the state meet at the Kentucky Horse Park next week.
Class 3A, Region 6
Teams — Paul Laurence Dunbar 38, Tates Creek 43, Lafayette 44, Henry Clay 132, Bryan Station 148, Scott Co. 183, Woodford Co. 190, Anderson Co. 234.
Top 20 individuals — John Spencer, Lafayette (16:42.18); Will Keplinger, Dunbar (16:53.51); Ben Hart, Tates Creek (16:54.48); Malik Mahmud, Dunbar (16:54.74), Benjamin Young, Tates Creek (16:54.75), Kendall Muhammad, Dunbar; Adrian Lyttle, Tates Creek; Dimitri Leggas, Lafayette; Nick McGee, Tates Creek; Tucker Stofer, Lafayette; Joseph Ash, Dunbar; Douglas Burris, Lafayette; Johnny Smith, Lafayette; Brian Rugg, Lafayette; Elijah Olige, Dunbar; Mitchell Kilgore, Lafayette; Kyle Sprague, Dunbar; Matthew Fister, Woodford Co.; Evan Adams, Tates Creek; Alex Mortimer, Tates Creek.
Teams — Woodford Co. 39, Tates Creek 65, Lafayette 73, Paul Laurence Dunbar 96, Henry Clay 98, Scott Co. 137, Bryan Station 148, Anderson Co. 244.
Top 20 individuals — Mia Cornette, Woodford Co. (19:40.73); Abby Florence, Dunbar (19:52.12); Olivia Rodrigue, Lafayette (19:52.61); Adira Jarman, Woodford Co. (20:06.11); Miranda Mullins, Lafayette (20:24.31); Emma Anderson, Tates Creek; Kylie Mink, Woodford Co.; Lorren Sales, Tates Creek; Eliza Jane Schaeffer, Henry Clay; Kara Weaver, Tates Creek; Janet Dake, Woodford Co.; Lindsee Tippetts, Dunbar; Lauren Guilfoil, Bryan Station; Emma Guilfoil, Bryan Station; Mary Grace Hill, Lafayette; Meredith Davis, Woodford Co.; Jennie Clark, Henry Clay; Ivory Nava, Scott Co.; Daria Ochenkowski, Henry Clay; Kylie Russ, Tates Creek.