Lexington Christian senior Aaron Wier took up cross country as a junior and finished third at the state meet last year. So, heading into Saturday's Class A cross country event at the Kentucky Horse Park, the senior felt confident.
When asked when he thought he had the 5K won, he replied: "Before the race."
Joking aside, Wier's time of 15:56.19 was the only sub-16 minute time in his class and made him one of only 14 runners under 16 minutes all day.
The effort was also good enough, when combined with his LCA teammates, to earn the Eagles their school's first cross country state title.
"I've just got to thank God for all he's done for me," Wier said. "Man, he blessed me. And it feels amazing to do this with my wonderful teammates and brothers."
Wier took command from the start of the race and didn't look back.
"Before the race, I just felt good," he said. "I give props to all these guys who work so hard. ... There's so much talent in this sport, you've got to work hard to do well. You've got to work your butt off."
LCA junior Adam Huff took fourth and sophomore Adam Wier placed 11th to help the Eagles edge Holy Cross for the team title. St. Henry placed third overall.
"We started in July and had a goal to come out here and do our best and, hopefully, let things take care of itself," LCA Coach Tom Stickle said. "And that's kind of what happened."
It's a victory Stickle hopes to build on.
"We graduate just one guy, so hopefully we can just keep growing and get better and better."
Holy Cross's Keeton Thornsberry placed second. Levi Owens of Cumberland County finished third.
Highlands senior Ethan Shuley repeated as Class 2A cross country champion with a time of 15:33.47.
"I was strategizing with my team, but I decided it was in my best interest to go out hard and see if anyone comes with me and I was just able to hold on," he said. "I think that once I got to the top of the hill, I saw that my competitors were pretty close, so I decided to push hard that second mile."
Shuley had been struggling with injuries this season, but despite that he was able to improve on last year's winning mark by nearly 25 seconds and beat his closest competitor this year by more than 13 seconds.
North Oldham's Trenton Fryman and Alex McClarty finished second and third, respectively, to help their team take first place overall for the second year in a row.
Lexington Catholic senior Christian Cole finished seventh, up four spots from last year.
The race for the Class 3A state title came down to the final sprint with South Oldham's Cole Dowdy outkicking Madison Central's defending state champion Brennan Fields for the win in a meet-record time of 15:20.38.
Dowdy's brother, Tanner, trailed just behind in third place. The Dowdy brothers and Fields led the pack much of the way.
"He's got a ton of speed on the track," Cole Dowdy said of Fields. "He beat me earlier this year on this course, so I knew it was going to be a battle."
At one point, both Dowdy brothers had the edge on Fields, but the Madison Central senior was able to split them up at the end.
"I think I was in a good position, probably 2 miles in," Fields said. "Probably that first mile, I might have been a little farther out than I wanted to be, but he ran a great race."
St. Xavier captured its 21st team title, placing five runners in the top 11, led by Spencer Hayden (4th) and Matthew Thomas (5th).
Tates Creek came in ninth place overall, led by junior Alex Mortimer's 21st-place finish.