NICHOLASVILLE - When Somerset Christian School senior runners Sydnee Meadows and Cara Acey crossed the finish line in this past weekend's Kentucky Christian Athletic Association Cross Country State Championship at West Jessamine High School, a golden chapter of Lady Cougar cross country excellence had come to a close.
For the last six years, either Meadows or Acey had claimed the individual state championship cross country crown. Meadows won the recent 2018 crown to make it four straight individual titles in a row. Acey finished ninth in this year's race, but won back-to back individual state titles in 2014 and 2013 as a middle schooler.
But even before Meadows and Acey, former Somerset Christian harrier Sarah Strehl won back-to-back individual state crowns in 2012 and 2011 - giving the Lady Cougar female runners an amazing eight-year stranglehold on the KCAA female individual state cross country crown.
Meadows, who finished runner-up to Acey back in 2014, has not really been challenged for the state crown over the past four years. Meadows covered the 2018 state meet 5,000-meter cross country course in 19:31, which was a 1:46 ahead her state runner-up Lady Cougar teammate Chloe West. Last year, Meadows was over two minutes ahead of her nearest competitor, and won her first state title in 2016 by nearly a full minute.
"As a freshman, winning state all four years was a dream," Meadows stated. "I voiced it to my dad, but to see it actually happen this past weekend was such a special thing. In tenth grade, I had to battle through an injury and that year taught me how quickly things can change. You can't take anything for granted. It was a blessing to see all of the hard work paid off."
"I'm really thankful for my teammates as well," Meadows continued. "There's no way I could have done it without their encouragement and support. Winning as a team was goal we had from the beginning of the year--especially for me and Cara Acey. We have run together since eighth grade and we wanted to win one more s tate title as seniors."
Acey finished out her KCAA cross country career with two state titles and two runner-up finishes. Acey has been a part of seven Lady Cougar state championship teams, which included this year's state crown by the female Somerset Christian cross country teams.
"I remember the first girls varsity championship in school history in 2011, which began a long line of titles for our team," Acey stated. "Since then we have won six more, which I have been a part of. Being a senior, I have watched the cross country program grow into what it is now and I couldn't be more proud of my team here. It's been a great senior season so far and I'm excited to see what we can do at Nationals this weekend as well as what the rest of our running careers will look like in future years."
The Lady Cougars easily won this year's state team title with a low 7 points, which was 10 points better than runner-up Highlands Latin.
Behind Meadows' state title performance, freshman Chloe West finished second with a time of 21:17. Sophomore Miriam Ritchey finished fourth with a time of 21:44, Acey finished ninth with a time of 22:46 and freshman Kate Golden finished 11th with a 24:05.
According to Meadows, the future of the Somerset Christian girls state title legacy may be good hands with state runner-up Chloe West and the other underclassmen Lady Cougars.
"I was elated for all of my teammates, and for Chloe to finish runner up was really exciting," Meadows exclaimed. "She has worked really hard this fall - playing volleyball and running cross country at the same time. She's a really good runner and has a great future ahead of her."
"I'm looking forward to seeing how the team does next year," Meadows concluded. "Miriam Ritchey and Kate Golden have also had great seasons and they will both be back next year to compete for another state title."
The Somerset Christian boys team finished in fourth place with sophomore Isaac Morris leading the way with a 11th place finish and a time of 20:09. Senior Sean Roberts placed 14th with a 20:09 and Ryan Davis placed 15th at 21:00.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.