A young Henry County Cross Country squad opened its season Saturday against some of the area’s top teams.
The Cross Country Cats competed in its first meet of the season when they traveled to Shelbyville to run in the Shelby County Invitational, which included regional powers South Oldham, North Oldham and Collins.
Meade County won the boys’ race with a very impressive score of 43 points. Louisville Butler was second with 81 points and South Oldham was third with 83 points.
The young Henry County squad finished the race with 320 points and 12th place.
Individually, the Cats were led by sophomore Austin Payton who finished in 21:02, good for 68th place. Sophomore Jesse Mann was 70th in 21:20. Henry County’s third finisher was junior Chase Slone, who finished 73rd in 21:32. Ethan Smith finished in 80th place with a time of 22:15 and Eddie Jones rounded out the scoring for the Cats with an 81st place finish in 22:22. Also running for the Wildcats but not figuring in the scoring were Matt Petree who finished 83rd with a time of 22:25 and Cole Wilson who finished 87th in 22:43.
The Lady Cats put only two runners on the line in the varsity race as Izzy Miller was out due an eye injury and the fact that the young squad wanted to let their middle schoolers compete as a team. Some of those middle school girls will figure prominently in the team later in the year.
For now though, it was junior Cathryn Fischer and freshman Micah Lineman going to the line for the Lady Cats. Fischer finished the race in 71st place with a time of 26:23 and Lineman finished in 83rd place with a time of 28:13.
South Oldham won the team competition with 47 points to edge Louisville Butler who finished with 48 points. Mercy Academy, also from Henry County’s region, finished third with 73 points.
In the boys’ junior varsity race, a couple of young Wildcats put up times that will challenge for varsity spots next time out. Freshman Seth Amiott finished the race in 24th place with a time of 21:07, which would have been the second best time in the varsity race. Sophomore John Bates finished in 21:47 that also would have put him in thick of scoring runners for the varsity Cats.
Also competing in the JV race were freshmen Cameron Morgan, Connor Finley and Dale Davis. Morgan finished the race in 25:04, Finley in 25:44 and Davis in 36:47.
“I think that it was a great starting point for us. Coach Ricky Drawbaugh and I feel really good about it,” Coach Victoria Michels said after the race. “It was our first meet of the season and for the most part everybody performed at or above expectations.
“Austin Payton and Jesse Mann did great. Jesse has been running 5th or 6th in practice and came up as our 2nd finisher. Austin Payton was just 20 seconds off his personal record in the first meet of the season on a difficult course.”
“We need to get (the girls’ team) healthy and keep running. Cathryn and Micah both did better here than they did last year.”
The running Cats go to Carroll County Tuesday and then travel to North Oldham for the Rumble in the Jungle Saturday.