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After three seasons as the head coach for the Henry County High School cross-country team, Ricky Drawbaugh has recently decided to resign his position. Drawbaugh might coach track this spring but will definitely not be back for cross next fall or track the following year.
“It was not an easy decision. The biggest factor in my resignation was my family,” said Drawbaugh, who is married and has a 16-month-old daughter. “I will miss working with the kids. The team will be fine, though.”
Drawbaugh, who ran cross-country at Shelby County High School and competed a brief time for the University of Louisville, took over the Henry program from Greg Woods in July 2006. During his tenure, Henry had athletes qualify for the KHSAA State Cross Country Championships 10 different times, with seven runners advancing in 2006, three runners advancing in 2007 and one runner advancing in 2008.
Drawbaugh had his most success in his first season when the Cats had a perfect peak at the Class 2-A, Region Three championship meet. Out of the 11 Henry runners, nine ran a personal record, the boys’ team advanced to state for the second straight season and two girls advanced individually. At the state meet the following weekend, the boys’ team broke the school record with a best-ever 22nd-place finish — Larry Farmer placed 51st, Mike Beaven placed 123rd, Billy Knox placed 124th, Cody Reece placed 136th and Travis Farmer placed 159th. And in the girls’ varsity race, Brittany Crawford placed 76th and Cassey Fischer placed 112th.
The following season, Henry sent three runners to the state meet with Larry Farmer placing 59th and his younger brother Travis placing 142nd in the boys’ race, and Crawford placing 104th in the girls’ race.
This past fall, Fischer was the lone Henry runner to advance to state. The freshman finished 16th with a new 5,000-meter HCHS school record of 20 minutes, 27 seconds. Henry struggled to field a full five-person team all season and did not have enough boys or girls to get in the team standings at the regional meet — five finishers are needed.
“Coaching has been fun and frustrating as all jobs are at times,” Drawbaugh said. “The fun has far outweighed the frustrating. I hope to see both programs (track and cross-country) grow even more, to see kids that don’t participate in fall sports come out for cross-country and those that do not participate in spring sports come out for track. With a little mental toughness, many kids can be good at either.”
No coach has been named for the cross season next fall, but Woods has been the assistant the previous three years and might jump back into the lead role.
“I’m definitely interested in taking the position back,” Woods said in a recent interview. “I’ve got three years of teaching left and I think in three years I can try to build it back up and find someone to take it over. My goal is to try to get kids interested again.”
As for track this spring, a new coach has not been named yet. Drawbaugh, whose contract runs through this track season, will coach the team if HCHS does not find a replacement before the season begins in January, he said. Either way, he wants to stay involved in the program. He will continue to teach math at Henry County Middle School.
“Just because I am not coaching does not mean that I will not be one of the team’s biggest supporters,” Drawbaugh said. “They will see me at some meets and some practices.”
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