Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Austin Mathews won the Region 6, Class 3A cross country meet by more than a minute Saturday, but it was his coach’s sprint to his car before the race that proved more important for the Bulldogs.
KHSAA race officials determined Dunbar’s compression shorts to be in violation of competition rules by having two distinct manufacturer logos, one on the waistband and one on the leg. Only one is allowed per state and national rules.
The violation was found after the runners shed their sweatpants and shirts at the start line on a cold October afternoon. The start of the race was delayed 10 minutes as Dunbar Coach Jean Balan was allowed to scramble back across the street to his vehicle and find five extra regulation shorts that were backups for the girls’ team.
“It was really tough because (the uniform issue) took two of our runners away from the race, so we only raced with five instead of seven,” Mathews, a junior, said after completing the twisting 5-kilometer Lykins Park course in 16:05.3. “It made it a little bit more difficult. I just wanted to run for my teammates and get the win.”
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Two Dunbar runners without the backup shorts chose not to race rather than be disqualified. Because the remaining five runners combined to finish third at the regional meet, all will be eligible for next week’s state championship at the Kentucky Horse Park.
While there were some coaches visibly upset over the delay, a formal protest over the controversy was ultimately withdrawn. Dodd Dixon, Clark County coach and manager of the meet, said race officials erred on the side of giving the runners a chance to meet the rules and compete.
In the end, “It was fine,” Dunbar’s Balan said. “The rule is the rule. They did have to make the call. I’m glad (the officials) checked.”
If Dunbar had been disqualified, it would have eliminated one of the state’s top runners in Mathews and his teammates from qualifying for state. Mathews has the fastest time in Class 3A this year, running a 15:28.2 in the Fayette County championships earlier this month.
“My goal is to win. I want to go out there and compete and get that state title,” Mathews said. “It’s going to be difficult, but I definitely want to get in that top three and get a good time.”
Lafayette won the boys’ team title by fourteen points over Scott County. The top six teams, plus the top five individuals not on a qualifying team make state.
“I was very proud of how each one of my guys stepped up and they were able to do that together,” Lafayette Coach Brett Robinson said. “We don’t have a standout guy. Some other schools have that one guy. We don’t have that one guy, but our first five together are really strong.”
Tates Creek’s Jenna Strange broke quickly from the start and eased to her third straight win in the Region 6, Class 3A girls’ cross-country meet Saturday in a time of 19:21.4.
While well off her personal record, the junior two-sport star feels she is beginning to hit her stride in time for state.
“I got off to a little bit of a rough start, because I also do soccer, so my times were a little bit iffy at the beginning of the season, but I definitely think I’ve progressed since then,” Strange said.
With soccer over, Strange said the physically demanding Lykins Park course was a good set up for next week’s run at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“It definitely got me ready for next week mentally, because when it gets challenging (you’ve got to) just keep pushing through,” she said.
Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Caroline Inman finished 16 seconds behind Strange for second place, helping the Bulldogs edge Clark County for the regional team title by one point. Strange’s Commodores took third.
The top five girls teams and top five individual runners on teams not qualifying earn trips to state.
Cross Country Region 6, Class AAA
Saturday at Clark County
(Top 6 teams advance to state meet; x-advances as an individual runner)
TEAMS—1. Lafayette, 65, 1:29:27; 2. Scott County, 79, 1:30:11; 3. Paul Dunbar, 101, 1:29:33; 4. Woodford County, 131, 1:32:19; 5. Tates Creek, 133, 1:32:05; 6. George Rogers Clark, 136, 1:32:21; 7. Montgomery County, 140, 1:32:28; 8. Frederick Douglass High School, 169, 1:33:17; 9. Bryan Station, 208, 1:35:38; 10. Anderson County, 250, 1:40:57; 11. Henry Clay, 293, 1:40:01.
INDIVIDUALS (top 20)—1. Austin MATHEWS, Paul Dunbar, 1, 16:05.3; 2. Ben CAMUEL, Tates Creek, 2, 17:19.5; 3. Jacob FRYER, Scott County, 3, 17:25.6; 4. Grant WALLES-x, Bryan Station, 4, 17:27.1; 5. James WIREMAN, Scott County, 5, 17:37.7; 6. Evan MILLER-x, Frederick Douglass High School, 6, 17:38.6; 7. Cord TACKETT, George Rogers Clark, 7, 17:39.1; 8. Case DEARINGER, Tates Creek, 8, 17:40.4; 9. Isaiah JOY, Lafayette, 9, 17:41.2; 10. Bobby PAYNE, Lafayette, 10, 17:44.6; 11. Garrison PEETS, Lafayette, 11, 17:52.1; 12. Logan BRADSHAW, Paul Dunbar, 12, 17:53.6; 13. Will CAHILL, Lafayette, 13, 17:53.6; 14. Logan STAFFORD-x, Montgomery County, 14, 17:59.3; 15. Peter MCGOWAN, Woodford County, 15, 18:04.3; 16. Logan STIGALL, Montgomery County, 16, 18:04.9; 17. Cody COOPER, George Rogers Clark, 17, 18:09.9; 18. Mason PIERCE-x, Anderson County, 18, 18:11.1; 19. Kaiden JOHNSON, Scott County, 19, 18:11.2; 20. Caleb GETTELFINGER-x, Anderson County, 20, 18:12.7.
(Top 5 teams advance to state meet; x-advances as an individual runner)
TEAMS—1. Paul Dunbar, 59, 1:48:23; 2. George Rogers Clark, 60, 1:50:09; 3. Tates Creek, 73, 1:49:26; 4. Lafayette, 108, 1:54:11; 5. Montgomery County, 121, 1:55:13; 6. Scott County, 123, 1:55:25; 7. Henry Clay, 151, 1:58:10; 8. Woodford County, 197, 2:01:44; 9. Anderson County, 272, 2:14:44.
INDIVIDUALS (top 20)—1. Jenna STRANGE, Tates Creek, 19:21.4; 2. Caroline INMAN, Paul Dunbar, 19:37.0; 3. Jewelee HOLBROOK, Montgomery County, 21:17.5; 4. Olivia CAHILL, Lafayette, 21:24.7; 5. Julia GRAVES, George Rogers Clark, 21:32.2; 6. Anne VANDENBERG, Paul Dunbar, 21:32.8; 7. Jillian PRIVOTT-x, Frederick Douglass High School, 21:33.0; 8. Emma WELLS, Tates Creek, 21:33.0; 9. Carley MASKOS, Tates Creek, 21:37.6; 10. Julia SAMMET-x, Henry Clay, 21:45.1; 11. Rachel PUCKETT, George Rogers Clark, 21:55.4; 12. Julia POHL, George Rogers Clark, 22:02.9; 13. Erin LUCKETT-x, Scott County, 22:05.4; 14. Emily BRAVARD, Paul Dunbar, 22:07.4; 15. Katie GATEWOOD-x, Woodford County, 22:12.3; 16. Emma TAYLOR, George Rogers Clark, 22:12.4; 17. Maddy JENKINS, Paul Dunbar, 22:13.8; 18. Bailie COLCORD-x, Scott County, 22:20.8; 19. Sydney MCINTOSH, Lafayette, 22:25.0; 20. Maria JACKSON, George Rogers Clark, 22:25.6.
Complete results on Wilderresults.com.