The second time around proved to be tougher than the first for Ben Young, but not too tough.
Young, a Tates Creek senior, was a dominant repeat winner Wednesday in the Fayette County Public Schools Cross Country Championships at Masterson Station Park.
"It feels great," said Young, who also helped the Commodores win the team title with 37 points. "This year was tougher. Last year, I had another runner to compete with. That pushed me faster."
Young's time of 16 minutes 19.5 seconds for 5,000 meters was five seconds faster than he clocked a year ago, though.
Teammate Alex Mortimer came in second in 16:26.9. Third-place Matthew Inman helped Paul Laurence Dunbar place second in the team competition with 46 points.
"Our boys ran really well today," Creek Coach Chris Hawboldt said. "Dunbar ran really, really well — they kind of surprised me today. I didn't really know anything about them. They came out and showed out today.
"But our boys ran well. A lot of work to do. For the ranked team seventh in the state, we've got a lot of work to do to go out and run a good State and Region."
Young broke contact with all pursuers about three-quarters of a mile into the race, then focused on the finish.
"I knew coming in I'd have to be running it by myself, because there wasn't a lot of competition," he said. "So I just had to come in there and really have mental strength."
After Young and Mortimer, Tates Creek had Kyle Sprague in seventh, Adam Castleberry in 12th and Noel Dingle in 15th place.
On the girls' side, Tates Creek freshman Savanna Duff was first to finish in 20:43.0. Runner-up Daria Ochenkow ski, timed in 21:15.5, paced Henry Clay to the team championship with 26 points to Creek's 42.
Henry Clay placed five runners in the top nine.
Duff kept her strategy simple: "Just try to get out there and stay out there," she said. "And just work the hills."
Duff said she broke contact near the two-mile marker.
"I felt good," she said. "Just kind of worked up the hills, tried to go. Had a great strategy."
After Ochenkowski in second place, Henry Clay came in with Jennie Clark in third, Eliza Jane Schaeffer in fifth, Julia Sammet in seventh and Charlotte Kessinger in ninth.
"The girls really went out, and one of our goals this year has been (to) compete and really push ourselves," Coach Steven Riley said of the Blue Devils. "So they just went out there aggressive today, and went out and dictated the pace instead of letting somebody else dictate the pace to them.
"They really do a great job of encouraging each other and pushing each other. And when you've got one or two that are willing to do that, that brings the whole group up with them, and we've had great leadership on the team."
Girls' teams — Henry Clay 26; Tates Creek 42; Dunbar 84; Bryan Station 114; Lafayette 130.
Girls' individuals (5,000 meters) — Savanna Duff (TC) 20:43.0; Daria Ochenkowski (HC) 21:15.5; Jennie Clark (HC) 21:52.0; Maddy Jenkins (D) 22:01.5; Eliza Jane Schaeffer (HC) 22:08.4; Jordyn Hurley (TC) 22:09.5; Julia Sammet (HC) 22:16.6; Kylie Russ (TC) 22:20.4; Charlotte Kessinger (HC) 22:34.4; Gloria Pulley (HC) 22:34.9.
Boys' teams — Tates Creek 37; Dunbar 46; Henry Clay 71; Lafayette 81; Bryan Station 114.
Boys' individuals (5,000 meters) — Ben Young (TC) 16:19.5; Alex Mortimer (TC) 16:26.9; Matthew Inman (D) 17:04.7; Scott Kaiser (L) 17:26.4; Carter Whalen (HC) 17:28.4; Elijah Olige (D) 17:31.1; Kyle Sprague (TC) 17:33.2; Tim Michael (D) 17:36.6; Thomas HIll (L) 17:39.1; Andrew Shoaf (D) 17:44.7.