"I was expecting to do well, but I didn't know if Devin (Lawson) was running or not," he said.
Lawson, a senior, is with the team for the first time this season, and he came in third overall as Boyle had five of the first 14 boys across the finish line.
"When I saw Devin and I saw Sam (Morgan) and then I saw John (Anderson) right behind me, I thought we had this," said junior Mason Glass, who was 13th overall.
Morgan finishes 18 seconds in front
Of course, Patrick Morgan was leading the way, covering the course in 17 minutes, 16 seconds. That was 16 seconds slower than his second-place time in the 2002 Boyle invitational, but it was still 18 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
Sam Morgan was eighth and Glass was 13th, but the surprise may have been Anderson, an eighth-grader who was 36th a year ago but ran 14th this time around, taking 2 minutes off his 2002 time and setting a new personal best.
"He really stepped up," Lawson said. "He dropped his (personal best) time by like a minute."
There were surprises for the Boyle girls, too, as they finished between regional rivals Rockcastle County and Lexington Catholic.
Junior Abby Piper turned in a typically strong performance to finish second, and just three places behind Piper was Boyle sophomore Kelly Jameson.
"It's probably the best I've done since I've started running, and I'm really excited since this is our home meet," Jameson said.
But it may have been Hayley Barbato who made the difference in Boyle's narrow second-place finish. The sophomore passed Lexington Catholic's No. 5 runner just ahead of the finish line for 25th place to take a point away from that school.
"I just kind of leaned forward at the very end," Barbato said. "She had been ahead of me the whole race, and they're our really big competitor. I knew every point counted."
Piper's time of 20:49 was just nine seconds off the lead as she battled Lexington Catholic's Ashley Arnold and Rockcastle's Kayla Hayes in a meeting of the top three girls in their region.
If Thursday is any indication, the Boyle team will be among the region's best this season, too.
"I just think it's fun because our whole team is getting a lot better," Jameson said. "I think our practices have been really good, and the team's coming together."
Kathyrn Bayless, who is recovering from shin splints, was ninth for the Boyle girls, two spots behind Casey County's Rita Dixon.
Danville was fourth in the girls competition. Seventh-grader Maddie Meckes passed teammate Mollie Pittman, an eighth-grader, at the line as the two finished 14th and 15th, respectively, to lead Danville. Just behind them were Kaitlyn Snapp in 18th place and Morgan Young in 20th.
On the boys side, Lincoln County's Jordan Wilkinson (12th), Danville's Ross Hempel (15th) and Garrard County's Malcolm Smith (19th) earned top-20 finishes.
(3.1 miles; 126 runners)
Team scores - 1. Boyle County (BC) 39; 2. Lexington Catholic (LxC) 76; 3. Henry Clay (HC) 79; 4. West Jessamine 102; 5. Rockcastle County (RC) 131; 6. Lincoln County (LC) 176; 7. Lafayette 192; 8. Danville (D) 216; 9. Garrard County (GC) 225; 10. Lexington Christian 251; 11. East Jessamine 285; 12. Casey County (CC) 291.
Individual leaders - 1. Patrick Morgan (BC) 17:16.70; 2. Matt Burton (HC) 17:34.30; 3. Devin Lawson (BC) 17:45.06; 4. Brandon Cole (RC) 17:47.14; 5. Christian Postel (LxC) 17:52.80.