After finishing in second place three straight seasons in both the boys' and girls' races of the Region 6, Class 3A regional, Tates Creek finally pushed through and swept both titles Saturday morning at Masterson Station Park.
Alex Mortimer and Kyle Sprague finished first and second for the Commodores, who placed five runners in the top 10 to come away with their first boys' title in program history. It was the second straight season the boys took first and second individually.
Mortimer turned in a personal course record of 16:18.6, improving by nearly 15 seconds his winning time in the Fayette County Championships earlier in October.
He felt as if he hadn't yet met his personal expectations this year. On Hallo ween, he tossed his fear of failing aside.
"I just wanted to finish the race and know that I didn't have anything left," Mor timer said. "I feel like I've been mentally afraid to push myself to my best ability. Today I wasn't going to let that be an option."
Sprague ran the best time of his career, 16:32.8, to come away with his highest finish of the season.
"This has been the plan all year, to make this our focus race," said Sprague, who finished eighth last season.
The Commodores placed second behind Paul Laurence Dunbar by one point in 2014, when Ben Young, who has graduated, and Mortimer finished 1-2.
"We've come up short somehow every single year, but this year we had everything together and we knew that we could do it if we just ran our race," Mortimer said.
Last year's team motivated the Commodores all the way to the starting line Saturday.
"We said, 'When you're running this race and it feels like it's hurting, just remember how bad it hurt last year," Sprague said, "and it's not going to be near as bad."
Jenna Strange used a 19:40.0 to claim the girls' individual title for Tates Creek, who also had Shae Robertson (third) and Savanna Duff (fifth) in the top five. Maddy Jenkins (Dunbar) and Ma kenzie Cooper (Clark County) ran second and fourth, respectively.
Strange ran 14 seconds faster than she did in the Fayette championships on the same course in the first week of October. Tates Creek won its first girls' team title since 2011.
Strange has a favorite quote that motivates her through each race: Your world's not falling apart, it's being put into place. She said it keeps her in the moment and from worrying too much about the time she runs.
"I feel like whether I win or lose it doesn't really matter," she said. "That's what God wants for me, so it's not going to be a good or bad thing whatever my time is."
Tates Creek Coach Chris Hawboldt had grown accustomed to finishing second in the region: in his first four years as coach, his teams had taken seven silver medals to one girls' gold in 2011.
Sweeping every gold in his fifth season?
"That's freaking awesome," Hawboldt said. "... It's huge. Our boys ran great, our girls ran great. Everybody did their plans today, and people stayed humble."
Going into next weekend's state championship meet with a region title will be a confidence-booster for the Commodores, Hawboldt said, but they must be mindful of "the big dogs" that will be there.
Still, going into the biggest meet of the year as a champion is "huge," Mortimer said.
"I know I have the potential to do something very, very awesome next weekend," he said.
The top five team finishers and top five individual finishers not on state-qualifying teams advance to the state championship in regions that field at least 10 teams.
Regions that field seven to nine teams send four teams to state and five individuals. Regions that field six teams send three to state.
Because Anderson County did not field a full girls' team to qualify for team points, Region 6, Class 3A will send four girls' teams to state.