Whitney O'Bryan of Daviess County finished as runner-up in the girls' division in a time of 15:05.84 and Brooklyn Bowen of Fairview claimed third in 15:10.58.
Bunch led all of the top three for the first half of the 4K (2.5-mile) race before falling back in the pack.
"Alex took the lead early and led the field to the 1-1/4 mile mark where Brooklyn Bowen of Fairview was the first to draw even and pass her," Sanders said. "In the next mile, two other runners passed her and then a third."
Despite dropping into fifth-place, Sanders still felt Bunch was within reach of a higher finish in the race.
"She was never really out of the race, even while running in fifth position," he said. "It did become apparent at 600 yards to the finish that the 16-second gap behind the leader would hold. With 300 yards to go, Alex made a sprint to the finish and reclaimed fourth place."
"It was a great effort for her, running with the state's best, and doing her best ever at the 4K run."
Bowling Green Middle School captured the girls' team title and College View won the boys' division.
Saturday's run in Lexington was open to all divisions, but it was only a state championship race for middle school and elementary runners.
The only top 100 position posted by Lincoln runners other than Bunch came in the girls' elementary run, with Morgan Gourley, a fifth-grader, placing 87th out of 350 in 13:43.83. Tevin Newcomb just missed the girls' top 100, placing 101st over the 3K course in 13:53.20.
In the elementary division, St. Andrew's Academy won for the girls while Owensboro finished in first for the boys.
For high school runners, Saturday's race was an invitational meet.
There would be no team trophy for the Lady Patriot and Patriot distance runners; however, Lincoln did garner some hardware at the meet.
Emily Frith and Eric Sanders both finished in the lead pack of their respective Class 3A races to win individual medals. Frith, a sophomore, claimed 11th-place in the girls' 5K with a time of 21:30.05 and Sanders, a junior, ran 12th in the boys' division in 17:41.05.
Running in the combined (Class A, 2A and 3A) high school races, Frith placed a respectable 19th overall out of 235 girls and Sanders was 23rd out of 386 runners.
Sanders had been running 35th in the combined race before he engaged his "late-surge" running tactic.
"Eric was in 35th place with a mile to go and moved up to 23rd having run his trademark tactic of pushing the final mile pace and passing all area runners in the closing yards," said Coach Sanders.
Caterina Karas of Shelby County was the high school individual girls' champion, winning in 18:53.08. Paul Laurence Dunbar, which won the girls' team title, claimed the second- through fourth-place spots with Megan Klein crossing second in 19:18.63, Amanda Hancock running third in 19:20.75 and Melissa Hurd taking fourth in 19:23.79.
For the boys' division, Dunbar also was at the front, with Rob Wahl winning in 16:16.37 and Elliott Rosenberg taking second in 16:20.19. Third place went to Woodford County's Jacob Kuntz, who finished in 16:33.10, and Joey Brendel of Conner was fourth in 16:38.19.
St. Xavier was the boys' high school team winner.