Boyle, Danville hosting cross country regionals

October 31, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

Home course advantage must count for something in cross country, because the coaches at Boyle County and Danville wanted to make sure their runners have it when it matters most.

So for the first time, the regional meets involving them - and most other area schools - will be held on two different courses just two miles apart.

Boyle will host the Class AA, Region 4 championships Saturday morning at its Millennium Park course, and Danville will host the Class A, Region 4 races in the afternoon at Admiral Stadium.

"I don't know if you have an advantage on your home course, but you probably feel like you do," Danville coach Ed McKinney said.


Danville and Boyle's regional meets have been combined many times in recent years, and usually they were held at Danville. And in some respects, Saturday's competitions will operate as a single meet.

Boyle and Danville are pooling their resources for their respective races. For example, they combined their order for supplies and they will split the mileage expense for an official who is working both meets.

"We've worked together quite a bit," Boyle coach Doug Sharp said. "It would've been a lot easier to do this at one place."

This will be the first time Boyle has hosted a regional at Millennium Park. It's considered a far easier course than the older Admiral Stadium circuit, but Sharp said it more closely mirrors what his runners will see at the state meet.

"It's got some long, steady inclines like the (Kentucky) Horse Park," he said. "I think we have an edge."

Danville has its own kind of edge, particularly in a far-flung regional - runners will come from as far away as Fairview and Trimble County - with many schools that don't attend Danville's regular-season meets.

"Just knowing where you are is a big advantage, just having the advantage of running here," McKinney said.

Boyle's boys, who were fourth in the state in Class AA in 2001 and seventh last year, are seeking their third straight regional title.

"We've still got a few question marks out there," Sharp said. "(Assistant coach Joni) Morgan said (this week) was the first time they really looked like a team."

Morgan is individual favorite

The clear individual favorite is Patrick Morgan, who is ranked fourth among Class AA boys in the latest statewide coaches' association rankings. The junior, who was fifth at last year's state meet, devoted most of his practice time to soccer until that season ended last week.

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't glad it's over," Sharp said. "But I really don't think he misses that much missing cross country practice to go to soccer."

Morgan is backed by senior Devin Lawson, junior Mason Glass and eighth-grader John Anderson, the team's most improved runner this season. Boyle could be challenged by Lexington Catholic and West Jessamine.

The Boyle girls will be led by junior Abby Piper, who was second in the region and 14th in the state last year. But virtually all the runners she battled in last year's regional are returning.

Sophomore Kelly Jameson has established herself as Boyle's second-best runner and senior Kathryn Bayless should earn a spot in the regional top 10.

Boyle lost the girls title by six points to Rockcastle County last year, and Rockcastle is favored to repeat, with Lexington Catholic also expected to challenge.

Other individuals who could earn high finishes in the AA girls race include Casey County senior Rita Dixon and Mercer County eighth-graders Loran Crowell and Amber Tyler.

Danville's girls will be defending their Class A regional title with a young, balanced squad.

"We don't have a top-five runner in the state, but we've got a lot of good runners," McKinney said.

Danville's top runners include eighth-grader Mollie Pittman, seventh-grader Maddie Meckes and sophomore Morgan Young. But its fastest runner for most of the year has been fourth-grader Kaitlyn Snapp.

Danville's boys were second last year and are led by eighth-grader Ross Hempel, who was third in the region and is ranked 18th in the state this year. Right behind him is junior Stephan Crown-Weber.

Burgin senior Joe Harris could also take a spot in the top 10 for the second straight year.

Lincoln County's top runners entering its Class AAA regional meet at Pulaski County Saturday include junior Brandon Sanders and freshman Elizha Burdette on the boys side and freshman Elicia Burdette and seventh-grader Jordan Burdette on the girls side.

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