LOUISVILLE — If this had been a year ago, the Boyle County girls would have walked out with two state titles.
The Rebels beat their state-winning times in the 3,200- and 1,600-meter relays Friday, but finished with a pair of thirds at the Class AA State Track and Field Championships a the University of Louisville.
Boyle collected 12 medals and broke two school records Friday to finished fourth in the team standings with 45 points, one point behind Paducah Tilghman for third and 21 points behind state champion Western Hills.
Battling stress fractures in both heels all season, Mercer County’s Tayler Lowe could not have asked for a much better finish to her season and career. Lowe had the highest finish for any area girl, tying longtime rival Daylei Dekrey¿of East Jessamine for second with a high jump of 5 feet, along with Casey County’s Shelby Stringer, who finished second in the pole vault at 8 feet, 6 inches,
“I’m happy. First, of course, would have been better. I’m ready to get to the doctor and find out what’s going on,” said Lowe, who has had five stress fractures. “I’m expecting to be on crutches all summer if not into the fall, but hopefully we can find out there’s something that can be fixed that’s causing this.”
The Boyle team of Natalie Settle, Logan Arnold, Kate Carman and Tabitha Evans finished third in the 1,600 relay and set a school record with a time of 4 minutes, 6.31 seconds.
“We would have won last year by a lot with the time we ran, but coach (Brent) Wagner said we got the school record,” said Evans, who ran the second leg and helped break a record her older sister, Cheyenne, had previously held.
Carman got the Rebels into third from fifth in the 1,600, which she knew she had to do.
“I knew they were in front of me and I just wanted to pass them in the first 200 because if you can pass them in the first 200, you can really kill their mental focus. But in the end, they just had a lot more energy than I did and were able to kick it in,” Carman said.
Arnold briefly passed Central’s Demondrea Starnes, but Starnes overtook her and held on for the runner-up finish.
“We all ran really well. All our splits were good,”¿Arnold said. “I wish I could have held the Central girl off in the backstretch.”
Arnold, Maddy Kriz, Elana Raffay and Nikki Coffey ran the 3,200 relay in 9 minutes, 57.12 seconds, more than half a second faster than their winning time last season.
“I knew it was going to be a battle, we knew it was going to be like that,”¿Kriz said. “The second leg we were seventh and I’m thinking, ‘I’m getting us into third. I have to at least get us into third.’ I ran a 2:24 split, which is my PR (personal record). It was still a good race, we didn’t let it bother us that much. Third is still great.
“(Winner Elizabethtown) came out nowhere. And they almost broke the state record. I thought it was going to be North (Oldham), South (Oldham) and us. State’s just like that, it’s unpredictable.”
Coffey was amazed the Rebels shaved almost 23 seconds off their regional time.
“We were hoping for a second or first, but it was good because we came into state with a 10:15 and we dropped so much time,” said Coffey, who ran the first leg. “My strategy was just stride in the beginning and then when you hit the 300 mark just gut it ut and don’t let anybody pass you.”
The team of Katie Lester, Carman, Meagan¿Curry and Kaile Short finished third in the 400 relay in a school-record time of 51.38 seconds.
“We originally ran 53 (second) at the beginning of the season, so dropping two seconds is just amazing,”¿Lester said. “I know each one of us looked the other in the eye and said, ‘I’m going to show you how great I am.’ We’re not really that fast, but together, we can get it done.”
She also teamed with Settle, Arnold and Carman to place seventh in the 800 relay in 1:49.97.
“I think we didn’t think that we could do it (place), and I think that was a big part of it. But my senior year, I couldn’t be prouder.”
Settle ended her day with four medals in her final state meet.
Aside from her two relay medals, she finished fifth in the 300 hurdles with a personal-best time of 47.73, and eighth in the 100 hurdles (16.91).
“I dropped like a second from my PR. Ranking fifth in the 300 hurdles is pretty good to me, and I was so close to fourth,” she said. “I had one thing in mind, go hard and don’t hold anything back. I got my PR and it was a fun last race in the 300 hurdles. In the 100 hurdles, I didn’t know how I’d do, but I got eighth and that’s OK.”
Coffey also ran her best time ever to place fourth in the 800 in 2:25.96.
“I’m upset because this whole week after regions, Coach has been saying our ranking was second team-wise. But before the 800 I looked at the (team results) and were 11th, and I thought maybe if I go a little faster, maybe we can get some more points. I started thinking about last year and I was ranked fourth and got second to last, so that’s more motivation for me,” she said.
Kriz was fourth in the 3,200 (12:06.07) and eighth in the 1,600 (5:28.91).
Also for Boyle, Arnold placed eighth in the 800, Evans was sixth in the long jump and Rachel Wesley finished fourth in the pole vault.
The Mercer girls placed in two other events and finished in 16th place with 15 points.
Shannon Murray ran her best time in the 400 to finish fourth in 59.81 seconds.
“It was really fast. I was just trying to deal with being nervous because last year my nerves got the best of me (placing 13th). This year, I did a little better,” she said. “I didn’t know who I was close to. I just saw the two girls in front. At that point, I knew I couldn’t catch them so I just tried to go for the best time and finish strong.”
Murray also teamed with Savannah Taylor, Alina Bechtoldt and Lyric Houston to finish sixth in the 800 relay in 1:49.51.
“We might have set a school record. Carli (Souder) usually runs it, but was out with (illness),”¿Murray said. “Alina Bechtoldt filled in and did a good job.”
Casey’s Nicole Nagy tied for sixth in the pole vault at 7-6.