Runners aiming for regional titles

November 05, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

The winning might be getting more difficult for the area's best cross country teams.

The three teams that are defending regional champions - the Danville boys and girls in Class A and the Boyle County boys in Class AA - will face stiff challenges to their bids to repeat in Saturday's regional meets.

"We've altered our goals, and our goals are just to bring home a trophy," Boyle coach Doug Sharp said.

Boyle's Patrick Morgan won the area's only individual champion last year, and he is one of three runners with a legitimate shot to finish first this year. The others are Kaitlin Snapp of Danville and Jordan Wilkinson of Lincoln County, which competes in Class AAA.

In both the boys and girls regionals, the top four teams and the seven best individuals not on those teams will earn state berths.


Following is a look at the regional meets in each of the three classes where local schools will compete:

Class A

Danville must defend its titles against improving boys and girls teams from Trimble County, which will host the regional on a course Danville's runners have never seen.

A deep Danville boys team might be the best bet to hoist a first-place trophy.

"If everybody runs good, we should have a good shot," Danville coach Ed McKinney said.

McKinney said freshman Ross Hempel, senior Stephan Crown-Weber and sophomore Jamie Grey should be near the front of the race. Sophomore Aaron Fons could also be a factor in helping Danville post a low score.

Danville's girls defeated Trimble by two points last year for their first regional title in 15 years, but Trimble is fifth among Class A girls teams in the statewide coaches' association rankings, two spots ahead of Danville.

"It's going to take everybody's best race to even have a shot," McKinney said.

Danville fifth-grader Kaitlin Snapp will likely compete for the individual title with Trimble senior Megan Gilley.

"We've obviously got some expectations for her," McKinney said. "And we've got a lot of girls coming back that have run well. All seven of them have run big races before."

Danville's other top runners include fifth-grader Diamond Pace, eighth-grader Maddie Meckes, freshman Molly Pittman, sophomore Brittany Baierlein and junior Sarah Vonderbrink.

Class AA

Boyle's boys beat Lexington Catholic by 10 points on their home course last year to win the regional, but Sharp said they will be hard pressed to do it again Saturday in Harrodsburg because of Catholic's depth.

"They don't have anybody who's super fast ... but they're all within a minute and 15 seconds of each other," Sharp said. "We think we can put our three and possibly four in front of their two, but their three, four and five will bunch right together."

Morgan was third in last year's Class AA state meet and is currently ranked fourth in the class. He'll try to hold off fifth-ranked Nathan Liversedge of West Jessamine to win one more regional title.

"He's been working hard. I think he's been really shooting to win that region," Sharp said.

Senior Mason Glass and sophomore Sam Morgan round out Boyle's strong base of three runners.

A pair of boys from Mercer County could be in the hunt for state berths: freshman Jim Mangum and sophomore Keita Uchida.

On the girls side, Rockcastle County beat Boyle by one point last year but is a bigger favorite this season, led by defending individual champion Kayla Hayes.

Boyle will be led by senior Abby Piper and junior Kelly Jameson. Piper has been hampered by an Achilles tendon injury recently, but Sharp said both she and Jameson should be near the front.

"I think Abby and Kelly can both get in the top 10 and maybe even in the top five," Sharp said. "That would pretty much assure us second."

Freshman Loran Crowell leads the way for a Mercer team that features four middle-schoolers among its seven runners.

"What we're looking at hoping to do is what we did last year, get that fourth-place spot," Mercer coach Leslie Smith said. "If we do better than that, I'll be thrilled."

Mercer hosts Saturday's meet at Anderson-Dean Community Park, where the course has been modified since the last regional was held there.

Class AAA

Lincoln's Wilkinson has had a breakout season, and Lincoln coach Mickey Goodwin said the freshman could challenge Pulaski County's Patrick Jenkins for the boys title in Somerset.

"He's been the top freshman at a couple of events he's run in, and I expect him to probably run in the top two," Goodwin said.

Lincoln missed a team qualifying berth by two points last year, but Goodwin said it has a better chance this year thanks to Wilkinson and teammates such as senior Brandon Sanders and sophomore Nate Tood.

"I think we can get it this year," Goodwin said.

Lincoln will enter only three girls, led by senior Brittney House.

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