By MICHAEL CHILDERS, CJ Correspondent
Coming into Saturday’s Class AAA Region 7 Championship at North Laurel High School, the Pulaski County girls varsity team knew they would have to knock-off Madison Central to claim a regional title.
Heading into Saturday’s race, the Madison Central Lady Indians had beaten Pulaski in each of their match-ups during the regular season by totals of 21 points, 8 points, and 27 points. The Lady Maroons were hoping to change that Saturday.
The race turned out to a be just as expected, as Madison Central and Pulaski County went toe-to-toe all the way to the finish line. The Lady Indians, once again, got past the Lady Maroons, but it wasn’t easy, as Nancy New’s team pushed Madison Central the entire way.
In fact, Pulaski County fell to Madison Central by just three points with the final score being, 31 to 34. Montgomery County was the next closest opponent, as they took third place with 91 points. Southwestern only had four runners in the race, so they did not qualify for this Saturday’s KHSAA Cross County State Championship meet at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
“Prior to the race, the girls knew it would take all seven running side-by-side a Madison Central girl, a king of man-to-man defense, and that is just what these ladies set out to accomplish,” told New. “We needed all seven girls to run together as a team, and that’s exactly what they did. They are an amazing group of young women, and I am honored to serve as their coach.”
Lady Maroon eighth-grader Alyssa Hyden upset Lincoln County senior Alex Bunch in the 3.1-mile race Saturday, as she defeated the two-time defending regional champion by a margin of 1:07. Hyden’s winning time was 19:53, while Bunch, who has won four individual regional titles in her career, took the runner-up spot with a clocking of 21:00.
“We knew that Alyssa could beat Alex, and that was our conversation with Alyssa as we practiced this past week,” stated the Lady Maroon cross country coach. “Alyssa got ahead of Alex and never looked back. Our goal for this is to help her keep fresh legs as she prepares for the state championship.”
Two Lady Maroon freshmen rounded out the top seven, as Sydney New finished sixth and Peyton Ingram grabbed the seventh spot. In her final regional meet, Pulaski senior Paige Ingram finished 11th.
Ashley Phelps, Southwestern’s top finisher in the race, finished 12th with a time of 22:16. Raegan Ruby, a junior at Pulaski, crossed the finish line in the 16th position.
The remaining finishers for Pulaski were: Brandi Thomas (25th) and Jean Weaver (31st). The remaining finishers for the Southwestern Lady Warriors were: Skye Combs (24th), Leanne Crowder (35th), and Justice Clayton (42nd).
The results weren’t so kind to the Maroons boys team though, as they finished third, behind Madison Central and North Laurel, in a race that they were expected to win.
Madison Central took the first-place trophy with 36 points, while North Laurel grabbed the runner-up spot with 64 points. The Maroons finished third with 66 points, while Southwestern grabbed fourth with 105 points. All four of these teams qualify for Saturday’s KHSAA Cross County State Championship meet at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Pulaski head coach Dave Evans was disappointed in his team’s performance Saturday.
“Some of the boys decided that they were not going to complete and we were beaten by two really good teams in Madison Central and North Laurel,” told Evans. “Those two teams wanted it more than we did and they beat us. I had hoped that we had matured enough this season to not have a performance like that this season, unfortunately I was wrong.”
“We have a really great group of young men, in fact just last Thursday, five of our runners were inducted into the National Honor Society (NHS), which is a great accomplishment; however, unfortunately that does not get it done on the cross country course. We have a couple of very talented guys that when they decide to run we have a top ten team in the state, but if they decide their not going to run on a particular day then we go from being the Region favorite to a third-place finish.”
Despite not getting first-place in the team standings, a Pulaski individual had a strong showing in the race. Junior Mason Blevins beat the rest of the field to the finish line on Saturday, as he won the 3.1-mile race in a time of 17:04. Blevins outlasted one of the top runners in the state in Lincoln County’s Brian Carlson.
“We did have one bright spot on Saturday, Mason Blevins, who proved that his hard work all season and his willingness to listen to the coaches paid off as he won the individual region title while beating the tenth-ranked AAA runner, Brian Carlson from Lincoln County,” praised Evans. “Mason has worked hard and I am glad it paid off for him. He definitely earned his 2012 Class AAA Region 7 crown, we are very proud of him and he deserves some recognition for his efforts.”
Southwestern senior Cory Owens, on his 18th birthday, finished fifth with a clocking of 17:34. Warrior teammate Jordan Carrington rounded out the top ten with a time of 17:49.
For the Maroons, Austin Hyden finished 12th, Morgan Stevens came home 13th, and Brennan Perkins crossed the line in the 19th position. Spencer Brainard, of Southwestern, finished 22nd.
The remaining runners for Pulaski were: Matthew Crawford (25th), Marcus Browning (27th), and Dalton Lovins (33rd). Making up the rest of the runners for the Warriors were: Matthew Jones (26th), Johnathan Schaffer (48th), Logan Stanley (56th), and Tanner Harris (57th).
MONTICELLO – For the first time in four seasons, the Somerset Briar Jumpers were not the champions in the Class A Region 6 Championship.
On Saturday at Cave Lake Park in Monticello, the four-time defending regional champion Jumpers were dethroned by the Berea Pirates by a score of 31 to 73.
Jonathan Smith, of Berea, won the boys race with a time of 17:10.
The top finisher for Somerset was junior Tristan Krause, who finished eighth with a time of 19:01. Jon Baker was the next Somerset runner, finishing 19th.
Somerset’s remaining runners were: Derek Hall (24th), Logan Sutton (25th), Grant Gover (27th), and Austin Calhoun (46th).
Model came away with the championship in the girls race, led by the first-place finish of Hannah Nnoromele, who’s winning time was 21:14.
Somerset had only two runners, so they did not qualify for points in the team standings.
The Lady Jumpers’ two runners were, Katelyn Hardwich (26th) and Hannah Smith (27th).