In what has turned into the toughest region in Class 2-A, the Henry County cross-country team will compete against fast competition at the Region Three Championships this Saturday at McNeely Lake in Louisville.
After the state’s realignment this fall, Henry remained in Region Three, which now is full of some of the best individuals and teams from across Kentucky. According to the latest rankings released by the Web site www.KYtrackXC.com, the girls’ varsity race will include teams ranked No. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 and individuals ranked 2, 3, 5, 9, 11, 16 and 19, while the boys’ race will include teams ranked 1, 2 and 3 and individuals ranked 1, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 18. For the Cats, who have struggled to put together a full five-person team all season, the primary goal is to qualify runners for the state meet the following weekend at the State Horse Park.
Besides the new alignment, Kentucky also changed its qualifying procedure. Instead of the top four teams from each region advancing, regions will advance a certain number of teams based on the number of full teams that are entered by deadline to make a more fair and even playing field. If there are one to three teams entered, then two teams will advance; if there are four to six teams entered, then three teams will advance; if there are seven to nine teams entered, then four teams will advance; if there are 10 to 12 teams entered, then five teams will advance; and if there are 13 or more teams entered, then six teams will advance. Also, the top five individuals not on a qualifying team will qualify. The Henry runners hope to grab a few of those qualifying spots.
“Our goal is for everyone to PR (personal record) and give the best they can at the race,” Henry coach Ricky Drawbaugh said of Saturday’s anticipated meet. “For those that have stuck with it, we are proud of them and excited to see what they can do at region.”
The Cats will have five runners in the boys’ race with seniors Brandon Goodwin and Timothy Ashby, juniors Travis Farmer and Jarrod Singleton, and seventh-grader Jacob Bratton, and three runners in the girls’ race with junior Alexa King, freshman Cassey Fischer and seventh-grader Cathryn Fischer. Farmer and the Fischer sisters will have the best shot at advancing as individuals, Drawbaugh said.
Last fall, Brittany Crawford, Larry Farmer and Travis Farmer advanced to the state meet with Crawford placing 104th at state, Larry placing 59th and Travis placing 142nd. Crawford decided to join the high school’s volleyball team so did not run cross-country this season and Larry graduated and is currently running for Brescia College, which leaves Travis as the lone Henry runner that ran at the state meet last season.
When he’s been cleared to run, Travis has been the top runner for the Wildcats. But he has suffered from knee injuries during most of the season, which has led to just a few races and a long layoff from training and racing. He just now started back training a few weeks ago.
As for the girls’ team, Cassey is coming off a track season that included a school record in the 3,200-meter race (12 minutes, 32 seconds) and a sixth-place finish at the Kentucky State Track and Field Championships as an eighth grader. She’s been the top runner for the Ladycats this fall, including a 20:47 5,000-meter time in her final race before the regional meet. Meanwhile, her younger sister Cathryn has steadily improved as the season progressed to a best time of 21:22, which she ran a few weeks ago.
With the faster-than-normal competition, which will be run on an average course with some rolling hills, the Henry runners will have to be at the top of their game to advance to the state meet. Regional opponents include Atherton, Bullitt East, Central, Christian Academy-Louisville, Fairdale, Jeffersontown, Mercy Academy, Moore, North Bullitt, North Oldham, Presentation Academy, Shawnee, South Oldham, Spencer County, Valley and Western. The top teams the region lost with the realignment were Western Hills, DeSales and Franklin County, while numerous other teams were added to the field which will make this year’s race much faster than previous years.
In the girls’ varsity race, which starts at 1 p.m. this Saturday, South Oldham is ranked No. 1 in the state and will be the team to beat, while Presentation is No. 2, North Oldham is No. 3, Spencer is No. 8, Mercy is No. 9 and Christian Academy is No. 10. Individually up front, Caitlin Beyea of North Oldham is ranked No. 2 in the state, while Casey Richardson of Presentation is No. 3, Jessie Murner of South Oldham is No. 5, Kacie Niemann of South Oldham is No. 9, Charliann Garcia of Spencer is No. 11, Kami Orrender of South Oldham is No. 16 and Chelsea Talley of Spencer is No. 19.
In the boys’ varsity race, which starts at 2 p.m., North Oldham is ranked No. 1 in the state, while South Oldham is No. 2 and Christian Academy is No. 3. Individually, Jacob Law of South Oldham is ranked No. 1, while Taylor Sanders of North Oldham is No. 7, Jared Burnett of Christian Academy is No. 9, Colin Grandon of North Oldham is No. 11, Jon Blinkhorn of Christian Academy is No. 13 and Cory Kelinjan of Spencer is No. 18.
“This region is the toughest in the state by far,” Drawbaugh said. “I think there will be exciting races with many tough battles for the team and individual spots.”
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