Ah, how the tables can turn from one season to the next.
Mitchell Poynter, from Tippecanoe (Ohio), pulled away in the late stages Saturday to beat Robert Rupp of North Hardin in the Franklin County Cross Country Invitational at the Kentucky Horse Park.
"That was the exact same as last year," Poynter said. "That was me and Robert Rupp. We were together last year, and he won last year and I got second place."
It was a two-man race again Saturday, over the same course that is used for the Kentucky High School Championships.
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The lead duo passed the mile mark in 4:45, the two-mile in 9:59. Soon after that point, Poynter put the race away.
"I'm just in better shape. Last year he was able to do the same thing that I did to him this year — just drop him on the hills about the two-mile mark," said Poynter, a junior. "He was hanging on the whole time and I thought I was going to be the one to drop off, but I surged a little bit on the hill and he couldn't stick with it.
"I'm happy for my team. Everyone ran really well. And I'm really happy to be under 16 (minutes) at this race. That was the main goal for me."
Poynter covered the 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) in 15 minutes, 50.64 seconds. Rupp, a senior, held on for second in 16:08.41.
"That's pretty good for the day," Rupp said of being the first Kentucky finisher. "I'm pretty happy with it. It was a good race. He gave it to me. Classic cross country: who wants it more? Dig for it, and he dug for it more than I did."
Third went to Daniel Frame of Tippecanoe, which easily won team honors with 38 points. Tippecanoe had three runners in the top six and five in the top 15. Poynter said the school is located about a 15-minute drive north of Dayton.
St. Henry was runner-up with 130 points.
Fourth individual was Brennan Fields, who helped Madison Central place third in the team standings with 134 points. North Hardin took fourth among 31 teams with 154.
"I felt all right. My legs were a little tired from last week," said Fields, a junior. "I've just got to work on some strength on that stuff. I need some other speed work for finishing, because I felt fine throughout the race. It's just those (last) 800 meters."
The girls' 5,000-meter race went to Mercy junior Brianna Wolken, who had the race under control by the time she passed the first mile marker in 5:39.
She led by five seconds there, and by 21 seconds when she passed the two-mile mark in 11:56.
Running by herself was "a little bit (difficult) because I like it better when I have someone to push me," Wolken said, "but I'm still motivated to not let anyone behind me pass me."
"I wish I had paced it a little bit better but I still broke 19 (minutes) and that's what I wanted to do."
Timed in 18:55.85, Wolken was the only runner to break the 19-minute mark.
Taylor Broermann of Eaton (Ohio) placed second in 19:20.62, followed by Sam Hentz of St. Henry in 19:30.76.
Ohio schools took the top two places in the team standings, with Tippecanoe topping Eaton 70-123. Tippecanoe placed three runners in the top 11 and five among the top 25.
St. Henry came in third with 136, followed by Madison Central with 158.