Results from the Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference cross country championships are in the books as local runners put finishing kicks on their long seasons.
Cooper in Division I boys, Highlands in Division I girls and St. Henry in Division II girls enjoyed repeat team championships Tuesday at the NKAC 5-kilometer races at Idlewild Park in Burlington. The St. Henry boys reclaimed the Division II crown from Bishop Brossart.
Boys’ race winners were Ryle’s Justin Reed in Division I and St. Henry’s Josh Hannon in Division II. Girls’ winners were Simon Kenton’s Sophia Delisio in D-1 and St. Henry’s Renee Svec in D-2.
It’s on to the next big event – Tuesday’s inaugural Northern Kentucky Championships at Summit View Middle School, a modified meet created by Dixie Heights coach Ed Cook.
He introduced the idea in July. Cook’s proposal was expanding the existing freshmen and junior varsity regional championship meets to include sophomores, juniors and seniors running against each other for individual titles.
The freshmen and JV regional remains a two-mile event. He liked the idea of giving older competitors another area 5K race to run, competing against times in their own graduation class, before the Oct. 31 division-by-division regionals. The similarly styled state meet is Nov. 7.
It’s an optional meet for high school runners who might want an extra race locally that Cook hopes will grab a foothold going forward. The sophomores, juniors and seniors will run in one large-field race. A computer will divide the results according to class. Meet organizers will announce individual class champions. Results will be more fodder for runners and coaches to pore over before the meets get really big.
“We had an open race along with the freshmen and JV races, and I thought about making the open race more competitive,” Cook said. “I suggested we try it at least this one year to see what happens. If it doesn’t work, then we won’t do it again.”
Winners in three high school classes will be unofficial champions. Some coaches believe their runners already have captured area crowns at the two-class NKAC meet. Cooper, for example, is running its JV squad only at the new meet. But, some of the area’s top runners did not compete at conference. The new meet gives those runners, and others, not only another race to run but one with a near-championship feel.
Cook has a slew of young runners, including seventh-grade girls’ sensation Alexis Plitzuweit and freshman Nicole Marker, and boys’ junior Andrew Perry, that he would like to see have extra opportunities as they climb the pecking order.
Plitzuweit and Marker had back-to-back 1-2 finishes this season. The surprising Plitzuweit was Dixie’s top placer at conference, finishing eighth in the big-school race. Marker was 10th. Plitzuweit already is one of the best-ever long-distance runners at Dixie, with a personal-best 5K finish of 20 minutes and 2 seconds. The eight-year-old school record is 20:01.
“The freshmen and JV have their races at next week’s championships, and now the other runners who want to compete have a race,” Cook said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and it keeps everybody running,” Cook said.