High School Sports

Girls Cross Country Championship: Collins freshman sets meet record for second-straight year

Gabriella Karas (center) set a meet record for the second-straight year at the Class 2A Cross Country Championship. The Collins freshman won her third-straight title.
Gabriella Karas (center) set a meet record for the second-straight year at the Class 2A Cross Country Championship. The Collins freshman won her third-straight title. Herald-Leader

Gabriella Karas of Collins ran another record-breaking race and three-peated as titlist, and Meagan Smith of Danville was a repeat winner in the KHSAA Cross Country Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park Saturday.

The Karas name is establishing a cross country dynasty. Caterina Karas of Collins won the Class 2A title in 2010. Her sister Gabriella, a freshman, has won the last three.

St. Henry and Assumption added to their trophy haul. St. Henry won its sixth 1A championship in seven years, and 17th overall. Assumption also won for the sixth time in seven years.

Class A

This year's 5,000-meter race looked a lot like last year's, with Smith winning by about 20 seconds over Karly Gawarecki of Louisville Holy Cross.

"Karly pushed me like crazy again," Smith said. "I was struggling, but I knew if I stayed with her I'd be in good shape and be able to sprint to the finish. And then whatever happened happened."

Smith opened up a lead at about the 21/2-mile mark, just like last year. "So I started thinking more positive that I could do it."

Smith finished in a time of 19:07.16, seven seconds faster than last year.

Gawareck was runner-up in 19:26.59. Williamsburg seventh-grader Selena Mattingly was third.

Smith, who will probably run for Murray State next year, was relieved to cap her senior cross country season with another title.

"I didn't want to do it just once," she said. "It felt good to end on a good note."

Sayre junior Maddox Patterson, who was state champ as a seventh-grader, eighth-grader and freshman, and runner-up last year, wasn't in the mix this time around.

Sayre assistant coach Colleen Cornelius said Patterson had "sharp shooting pains" in her hip while warming up. Patterson still gave it a go, but the pain hit again and she couldn't finish the race.

St. Henry won its sixth team title in seven years, and 17th overall. The Crusaders had top 10 finishers in Sam Hentz (fourth) and Holly Blades (ninth).

Class 2A

Last year Gabriella Karas established a meet record as an eighth-grader with a time of 17:44.18. She bettered that Saturday with a 17:39.04.

"I wanted to break the record again. I wanted to show that you can do anything if you put your mind to it," she said. "It's just keeping your mind determined. I wanted to prove I was faster than anyone else here today."

Karas won by almost a minute over Aleja Grant of Paducah Tilghman.

Lexington Catholic freshman Michaela Reinhart, who won the Lexington Catholic Invitational here this season, finished third.

"I actually don't think I ran that well, but that's OK," Reinhart said. "I had fun."

Besides, there was no catching Karas.

"She basically broke away right at the beginning," Reinhart said. "She got out fast and kept lengthening her lead. She ran a great race."

Highlands won its second team title in a row. Chloe Gastright finished fifth, and Sydney Ossege ninth for the Bluebirds.

Class 3A

Daviess County senior Whitney O'Bryan, runner-up last year, finished strong to beat out Bowling Green freshman Madisyn Peeples.

O'Bryan won in 18:09, nine seconds in front of Peeples.

Defending champ Bailey Davis of Assumption wasn't even the top finisher on her team this time around. Assumption's Emily Bean was fourth and Davis was fifth. Davis didn't mind, however, as she and the Rockets celebrated a fourth consecutive title.

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