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Runners start XC season this Saturday at Shelby

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By Tommie Kendall

Both Henry County and Eminence cross-country teams start their seasons this Saturday at the Shelby County Invitational, which is held on grassy fields across the street from East Middle School in Shelbyville. They will not be short on competition.

The Shelby Invitational has been one of the premier early-season meets. This year should be no different as some of the top area runners and teams will be vying for spots in seven different events. In reversed order from previous years to avoid the longer races being held in the afternoon heat, the girls’ varsity race will start at 9 a.m., followed by the boys’ varsity race at 9:45, the boys’ and girls’ junior varsity mixed race at 10:30, the girls’ middle school race at 11:15, the boys’ middle school race at 11:45, the girls’ elementary race at 12:15 and the boys’ elementary race at 12:45. High school races are 3.1 miles, middle school races are 1.8 miles, and elementary races are 1.0 mile.

In the boys’ varsity race last fall, Travis Farmer was Henry’s top runner with his 41st-place outing in 19 minutes, 59 seconds. Henry finished 10th out of 13 teams with 256 points and an average time of 21:02.  Eminence’s top runner was Trey Hernandez in 72nd place at 22:15.

Henry’s top runner this year is expected to be Eric Phillips, who has never run a cross-country race before this Saturday. The Wildcats will fill out their six-person lineup with Farmer, and newcomers Hayden Hughes, Clint Diven, Matt Petree and Jamie Tingle.

In the girls’ varsity race last year, Cassey Fischer led the Henry charge with a 13th-place finish in 22:01. As for Eminence, Yazshua Armenta was the top finisher in 69th at 32:15.

Fischer was the lone runner from either school to qualify for the KHSAA Cross-Country Championships last November, and placed 16th at state with a school-record 20:27.

This November, HCHS coach Greg Woods hopes to send more runners to the state.

“Compared to previous teams I’ve had, this year the boys’ team is probably a little stronger and I have some strong individual runners on the girls’ team,” Woods said. “In the past, it was the opposite with some very good girl teams.”

EHS coach Scott McClamroch wants his runners to progress throughout the entire year, accumulating with what he hopes is successful region and state meets. It will start this Saturday in Shelbyville.

“My goal each year is for each runner to improve all year,” McClamroch said. “I want them running stronger and better at the end of the year when it counts the most.”

E-mail us about this story at sports@hclcoal.com.