"He's getting his conditioning to where he can finish the whole race. That has helped quite a bit," Mercer coach Bill Smith said.
McCloud won a regional championship in the 100 last weekend with a time of 10.89, and while he couldn't duplicate that Saturday - a false start on another runner slowed the entire field - he did finish just two-tenths of a second off the lead with his time of 11.24 seconds.
"He really came on at the end," Smith said. "I felt like if he'd had another 10 yards, he'd have taken it."
Casey holds off Boyle
A compelling race between two local relay teams was decided by far less than that. Matt Cheeseman of Casey County held off Boyle County's Mason Glass in the final 50 meters to give Casey a fourth-place finish in the 1,600 relay.
"I didn't really know until 5 or 6 feet from the finish line I had somebody behind me," Cheeseman said. "If I knew it was him, I probably would have pushed a little harder."
"I really thought I could get that kid, but he's a great runner," Boyle's Glass said. "It's great having this kind of competition. I love it."
There were handshakes and hugs all around between the runners on the two relay teams, who have developed a friendly rivalry throughout the season.
Casey's team of Tristan Harris - who replaced an injured runner after the regional - Dustin Johnson, Zack Gosser and Cheeseman broke the school record in its qualifying run Friday. Then the foursome broke it again Saturday with a time of 3:23.23, three seconds faster than the day before and one-tenth of a second better than Boyle.
"We were confident we were going to do better," Gosser said. "We were confident we could break the record again."
Boyle was the defending state champion in the 3,200 relay, but its entry in that event finished fourth Friday, more than 7 1/2 seconds off the lead and 13 seconds behind its winning time in 2003.
Boyle's Patrick Morgan, who was second in the 800 last year, finished well back in the pack in that event but was fourth in the 1,600.
Morgan missed a handful of meets during the regular season with an illness. Given that, he was pleased with his performances this weekend.
"I'm extremely pleased," Morgan said. "Not being able to train so much really affected me in the 800, but at the same time it made me better for the (1,600) relay."