High School Sports

Wrong turns and mud can’t stop runners in state cross country meet

Mud-spattered Lexington high school runners made the best of a sloppy Kentucky Horse Park course on Saturday, as several of the city’s teams had strong performances on a slightly-altered 5-kilometer course.

“Everybody has to run in the same conditions,” Lexington Christian Academy freshman Anna Rupp said. “Who’s going to handle it the best?”

Due to heavy rain in previous days that water-logged much of the dirt and grass course, it had to be pushed up 55 meters. But most runners were hardly affected by the changes.

For the second straight year, Louisville Holy Cross handled the course the best in the Boys’ 1A championship. Lexington Christian Academy finished second. On the girls’ side, Bishop Brossart also recorded their second straight championship and LCA came in second— its highest finish ever.

In the Girls’ 2A championship, Scott High School won for the first time in 20 years, and Lexington Catholic secured its third straight boys’ championship.

Tim Wiesenhahn, Lexington Catholic’s head coach, said that to build a perennial winner you need great runners that know how to “suffer.”

“Our slogan was, ‘Suffer, and be strong,’” he said. “That’s not just a cliche. We try to teach them how to suffer and get through this and keep going.”

In the boys’ 3A championship, Louisville Trinity denied St. Xavier the four-peat by winning its first state championship since 2010, and in the final race of the day, the Oldham County girls’ team took home top team honors for the first time since 1992.

Three first-time girls’ champs

The girls’ 1A race was a tactical battle from the beginning. Rupp, the LCA freshman, battled with Morgan County senior Kailee Perry most of the way. But by the end of the second mile, Rupp had established a lead and held on to win the individual title with a time of 19:02.50.

Rupp said that knowing that Perry, who won the 2016 state championship race, wasn’t far behind her helped her finished strong.

“Come on, come on, come on,” Rupp said her coach yelled to her in the final stretch. “You got to go, (Perry) is still in it and she’s really fast.”

“I was like, ‘I’m trying,’” Rupp said with a laugh.

Maggie Schroeder’s 19:07.68 effort gave her a comfortable win in the 2A championship, as she bested the second-place runner by 17 seconds.

“It hurt,” Schroeder, a sophomore from Highlands, said with a grin after winning her school’s first girls’ state individual championship. “It was pretty awesome. I never put it very deep in my head that I could win because I didn’t want to be disappointed if I didn’t.”

Schroeder might have won by more had she not taken an almost 20-meter detour in the wrong direction toward the end of the race.

“I have ran this like six times, and for some reason I just went the other way. I wasn’t thinking,” Schroeder said. “For a second I had that little thought in my head that, ‘Oh my gosh, what if that lost me state?’ It didn’t, thankfully.”

Ciara O’Shea, an eighth-grader for Madison Central, ran a 18:41.90 race — the fastest time on the girls’ side — to win the 3A state championship.

“It means so much to me to know that I have the ability to run up and compete and still do good,” O’Shea said.

She began the race quite aggressively as she established her lead in the first mile and never looked back.

Boys’ races weren’t all chalk

Keeton Thornsberry, a Louisville Holy Cross senior, won the boys’ 1A title for the third year in a row. His 15:46.39 performance — the fastest of the day — gave him enough time to cross the finish line, catch his breath and wait 23 seconds to high-five and hug Caleb Bolus, his teammate and the second-place finisher, as he crossed the finish line.

Warren East senior Colton Bullington, out-kicked his competition in the final stretch for the 2A championship with a time of 16:20.23. After finishing fifth for the past two years, Bullington said he was proud that in his final high school meet he “actually did it.”

“It feels great,” Bullington said. “I can’t really describe it.”

Madisonville-North Hopkins senior Christian Parker pounded out a 15:48.22 win in the 3A race. Jonah Mitchell, a Muhlenberg County senior, hung with him for most of the race. Parker switched to a new gear in the last few hundred meters to secure the win. Parker said that knowing his opponent might have given him a big advantage in the final stretch.

“We’re good buddies outside of racing,” Parker said of Mitchell. “Last year we did every long run together, we trained with each other a lot.”