Keeton Thornsberry never stopped running Saturday afternoon.
Even after he crossed the finish line to win the boys’ Class 1-A Region Three high school cross country meet at Goshen’s Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, the Holy Cross sophomore turned around to find a spot alongside the 5,000-meter course to cheer on the rest of his Cougars teammates toward their goal for this meet.
“We really wanted to win this team title,” Thornsberry said. “We’ve been working really hard this season.”
The Cougars accomplished that mission, beating Green County by a point to take the team title as well.
The record high temperatures, along with the dry, windy conditions did affect some runners in the meet. It meant slower times for many runners, while others fell victim to cramping or other aliments. None were more affected than Presentation senior Julia Vogt, who fell just yards away from winning the girls Class A meet. That allowed Collegiate freshman Sydney Ragland to rally and take home the individual title. While Vogt didn’t finish, her Topper teammates picked her up, figuratively, by winning the team title.
In the Class 2-A boys’ meet, Alex McClarty of North Oldham took home the individual honors, while Shelby County placed four seniors in the top six to edge the Mustangs. In the girls’ race, Clara Lynch led strong Christian Academy contingent as the Centurions swept both the individual and team awards.
The top four teams as well as the top five individuals from non-qualifying teams in each meet earned berths in the state meet, scheduled for next Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Class 1-A Boys: While Thorsnberry’s time was more than 40 seconds off his best time from the season, he still dominated the race. He built up a nearly 20-second margin on the pack in the middle stages and won by more than 1:07 over his next closest competitor, Green County junior Dedrick Troxell.
At that point, it became a race to the finish between the Cougars and the Dragons. When Tanner McCauley crossed in 12th place, it secured the regional title by a 32-33 margin.
Thornsberry, who finished second in last year’s state meet, wasn’t the only one along the course cheering on the Cougars. Coach Richard Reynolds held out a sign along the route reminding his runners with just one word on it: control.
“I wanted them to see that and they did that today,” he said.
Holy Cross placed four runners in the top eight, and now the focus is on next week’s state meet. While the Cougars have won individual state titles in the past, they have not won a state team cross country title. That could change this year as they return four of their top five runners from last year’s squad, which finished second to Lexington Christian Academy in the state competition.
The Cougars will go to Lexington led by Thornsberry, one of the top distance runners in the state, along with two other sophomores and two juniors.
Class 1-A Girls: Vogt was on her way to a win, but the dry heat and wind were detrimental to her, coach Lou Armstrong said. By the time she was 2.5 miles into the race, she stopped sweating and the wind blew away any perspiration on her body, Armstrong said.
That opened the door for Ragland, who came into the meet with the third fastest time among the girls in her class. She ended up taking the meet by nearly nine seconds over Vogt’s teammate Olivia Brown. Ragland said she figured the conditions would be a little cooler, but she fought through the heat to finish in 21:49.46.
“I thought, ‘I’ve come this far, I can go a little longer,” she said.
Vogt was alert while she was receiving treatment, to the point that she encouraged her teammates to not stop as they passed her on the course. Paramedics eventually took her to the hospital to treat her for dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Class 2-A Boys: McClarty, who finished third in last year’s state meet, took the lead in the final 1,000 meters and held off Christian Academy’s Steven Ott to win the individual title by four seconds.
McClarty said he wanted to keep Ott in his sights throughout the race, allowing him to strike when the opportunity arose.
“He’s the type of runner that goes out hard,” McClarty said.
After McClarty and Ott came across, it was all Shelby County from there. With four seniors placing in the top six, it enabled to the Rockets to push past the Mustangs for the team crown. The slower conditions enabled the Rockets to run what coach Andrew Danner called the “perfect team race.”
Class 2-A Girls: After missing out as a team on a trip to state last season, Christian Academy came into this year’s regional meet seeking redemption. The Centurions got just that as they dominated, posting five runners in the top nine and seven in the top 20.
“We really weren’t concerned about times,” coach Lowery Stallings said. “Place was everything, so we just focused on having a good solid day today.”
Lynch let the lead pack jump out a bit, she said, as she ran at her own pace through the first mile. She cited the heat for that approach, saying she didn’t want to burn out. She ended up overtaking teammate Maddie O’Dea in the final mile and beat North Oldham’s Anna Costelle by 30 seconds.
In getting back to state, Lynch said she and her teammates are going to go to Lexington and try to seize the opportunity.
“We’re going to go all out,” she said. “We’re just going to leave it all on the course.”