LEXINGTON, Ky. – A couple of impressive streaks continued in the KHSAA Class 2-A cross country championships Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park.
On the boys’ side, North Oldham kept a firm grip on the team title for a fifth straight year.
For the girls, Gabriella Karas of Collins — despite an early-season injury — rolled individually for the fourth consecutive year.
Karas, who is just a sophomore, took the lead early — as she usually does — and cruised to the win in 17:57.70.
A year ago, Karas won in 17:39.04, but she has missed the bulk of this season after incurring a severe ankle sprain early in the campaign.
Karas, who said she was just trying to get under 18 minutes, admitted she is about 80 percent physically. “I just wanted to break 18 honestly,” she said. “I’m happy with that (time).”
“She’s been training for about five weeks,” said Collins coach Stephen Drawbaugh. “She really had to push it today to be able to run that time. She ran really, really well today.”
Karas went out to an early lead. “I just slowly pulled away from her (Michaela Reinhart of Lexington Catholic),” she said.
“She loves to get out there alone and get into her race pace,” Drawbaugh said. “She’s always been that way.”
Karas now will focus on the Footlocker regional race in North Carolina in mid-December.
Reinhart was a distant second, finishing in 18:46.91.
Christian Academy senior Hannah Herd was third in 19:01.16. “I was hoping for under 20 (minutes),” Herd said. “That’s a good time for me. I’m very thankful.”
In the team race, Highlands didn’t place a single runner in the top 10 but used superior balance to claim its third consecutive team title.
Highlands edged Christian Academy 107-140. North Oldham was third with 152 and Collins fourth with 174.
In the boys’ race, North Oldham placed three runners in the top 11 and cruised to the team title by 47 points over runner-up Webster County (49-96).
“Five in a row, and they’re all so different,” North Oldham coach David St. Louis said of the titles. “The legacy these guys have keeps growing every year.”
St. Louis said his team did little better than expected. “I don’t know if we expected to do as quite as we did, in terms of the score. Things started to come together in the second half of the race,” he said. “They were hungry and ready to go. Things opened up, and we attacked.”
For North Oldham, the future looks bright.
The Mustangs only have two seniors in the top seven runners. “Some of these guys really don’t have a lot of big-race experience,” St. Louis said.
Highlands’ Ethan won the individual title in 15:58.14, besting a pair of North Oldham runners, Trenton Fryman (16:19.58) and Alex McClarty (16:32.54).
St. Louis pointed to McClarty’s third-place finish. “He had a huge day to be third,” St. Louis said. “He’s quietly made a lot of progress. He had a monster race. It was a great way for him to break out, and he can do more. He’s still learning how to run tactically.”
Beside the top two, the Mustangs showed an abundance of balance with six runners in the top 22.
“With our pack-running mentality, our guys know that someone’s always going to be there to take care of them,” St. Louis said.