Despite the easy win in the 3200, Frith wasn’t happy with her time.
“I’ve been running like 11:50’s and 12:30 is 30 seconds off,” she said. “I was hoping they would run it with the guys because that way I could have been paced.”
According to pre-race performance sheets, Frith was considered the “best” runner in the field and the win looked easy. But Frith said it wasn’t.
“It didn’t feel easy,” she said. “I knew my ranking was pretty high up there. I was trying to think of a strategy where I wouldn’t have to push as hard but I pushed hard anyway.”
Frith didn’t feel any more at ease in the 1600.
“I got a little nervous in the mile because times were closer to me and Alex,” she said. “I just tried to block it out.”
Frith would feel unsettled in each of her runs at the regional championships. The 3200-meter relay, which she and Bunch run with Alaina King and Shelby Meece, was the first scheduled race of the meet. With mere minutes to spare, Lincoln’s bus, which had taken a wrong turn, finally arrived at Clay Co. High leaving minimal time to loosen up.
“That was so stressful,” said Frith. “We thought we wouldn’t have any time to warm up.”
The Lincoln quartet got in a few jogs alongside the track before the third call went out. Frith ran the first leg to get Lincoln off fast, King took the baton on the second leg and overtook the lead team from Pulaski County, Meece started to lap runners on her laps around the track, and Bunch took the anchor leg, sprinting to the finish for the win in a time of 10:24.45.
“That time was great,” said Lincoln girls coach Lacey Ledford. “We didn’t get here until late. They didn’t have time to warm up and they beat their best time. Their best time was 10:28 and now they’ve beat that.”
After running the 1600 with Frith, Bunch began to feel some regrets. She had entered the race just for team points but the competitor in her made her push for a qualifying spot and she was in a full out sprint to the finish to edge out Emily Belwood of Southwestern by a tenth of a second.
“I was really worried about the 800 after that. I thought maybe that wasn’t such a good idea,” said Bunch. “Then I think the adrenaline really kicked in. The girls took it out in first (800) and I decided I didn’t want to settle for second, I wanted to go to state. Once she started coming closer to me I knew I had to go get her and I did.”
A bout with mononucleosis last fall has left Bunch fighting to come back full strength in the cross country season and the early track season. Now Bunch feels she’s finally hitting her stride.
“I struggled at the beginning but I think I’m getting better,” she said. “I’m really starting to progress and, hopefully, I’ll peak at state.”
One Lincoln athlete who has had limited struggles this season is high jumper Zack Hill. The LCHS junior continued his undefeated season at the regional championships as he went 6-6 for the title.
Hill let out a sigh of relief when the event was over, admitting the competition was fierce.
“To qualify for state (automatically based on height), you have to get 6-0. Six people got 6-0 today. I’ve never been where six people got 6-0,” said Hill.
That fact left Hill a little more on edge than usual.
“All six of us make 6-0 and then I scratched twice on 6-2. That’s when I got nervous,” said Hill. “Then I got that. Then I got 6-2, and then I won with 6-4.”
With the win in hand, runner-up Jonathon Hubbard of George Rogers Clark and Matt Watkins of South Laurel both went out at 6-2, Hill went for 6-6.
And then 6-8.