The Eminence cross-country season came to an end Saturday at the Class A, Region Five Championships with no Eminence runner advancing to the KHSAA State Cross Country Championships, which will be held this Saturday at the State Horse Park in Lexington.
From Region Five — held at Admiral Stadium Campus in Danville — the top four teams advanced to the state meet from the boys’ varsity race and the top three teams from the girls’ race, along with the top five individuals not on a qualifying team. Eminence had one boy and five girls compete over the 5,000-meter course. In the boys’ race Trey Hernandez finished 40th in 21 minutes, 15 seconds, while in the girls’ race Candace Wells finished 41st in 31:27, Gwen Smith finished 42nd in 32:15, Samantha Congleton finished 43rd in 33:40, Rachel Raisor finished 44th in 34:37 and Kaelin Wright finished 45th in 37:30.
The course included a big hill at the one-mile mark, followed by a bunch of smaller, rolling hills which led to slower-than-normal times. Also, the chilly and windy weather wasn’t ideal for running.
“Giving the course and weather, it was our best race all year,” Eminence coach Scott McClamroch said afterwards.
With the state’s new alignment this fall, Eminence made the jump from Region Two to Region Five, which left the Warriors with a completely new look. The new region included North Central Kentucky Conference schools — teams Eminence raced against during the regular season. In previous years, Eminence had no idea what the competition would be like with zero races during the regular season against any of its regional opponents. This year, things were different for the Warriors as they pulled up to the race and saw familiar buses, McClamroch said. But as far as competition goes, it was a harder regional race this year than previous years.
“It was a much tougher region than I thought it would be,” McClamroch said. “It was nice to run against those NCKC schools we’re used to running against, but it was very tough competition. Originally, I thought it was a good move for us but now I renege everything I said.”
In the girls’ race, Kaitlin Snapp of Danville ran the course in 18:51 for the win, and was followed by Danielle Hoop of Owen County in 19:14 and Ann Eason of Sayre in 20:28. In the team competition, Trimble County won with a meet-low 41 points, while Lexington Christian was second with 43, Danville was third with 63, Owen was fourth with 78 and Eminence was fifth with 150. Trimble, Lexington and Danville all advanced.
For Eminence, Smith, Congleton and Wright all ran personal-best times, which ended their seasons on a high note considering the tough course and weather conditions.
In the boys’ varsity race, Chris Elliot of Lexington Christian kicked past teammate Will Mullett for the win — both runners were timed at 17:12 — while Taylor Ball of Trimble was third in 17:40. Burgin won the team title with 41 points, and was followed by Lexington with 43, Trimble with 44, Danville with 122, Sayre with 147, Carroll County with 158 and Gallatin County with 180. Burgin, Lexington, Trimble and Danville advanced to the state meet.
As for Hernandez, the lone Eminence runner competing in the race, he ran about the same time as last year’s regional performance but was more than a minute and a half away from qualifying as the 10th individual runner. Last year, he was just a few seconds away.
“I know he was a bit disappointed, but I thought he ran a good race,” McClamroch said of the junior who also plays on the high school’s football team. “He just never really got over that hump this year with football and everything going on. But he’s a good kid, he’ll be back next year as a senior and I’m sure he will be very determined.”
When Eminence takes to the cross-country fields again next summer, the squad will lose just three runners — Leticia Alvares, Josie Hernandez and Amy VanDer Luit — while returning all of its runners that participated in the regional meet this season. The Warriors will be looking to improve from this year, and possible send a few runners to the state meet next November.
“We’re excited about next year,” said McClamroch, who wants to jump start an elementary program for the younger kids. “I can see us improving. We will set our goals high, keep training and get after it.”
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