By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
It’s been a pretty good run for the North Laurel boys’ cross country team.
North Laurel placed second in the region last year, making it three straight years as runner up. It has been a strong half decade with the run of second place finishes preceded by their first region title and a third place finish.
Last year’s second place finish was led by runners like Layne Gaynor, Stephen Causey, and Garrison Burchell. Those three are now graduated and Ryan Abner chose not to return to concentrate on baseball.
“It was probably about as good as we could do (last year). Madison Central and Pulaski were both really good teams and they have basically everyone back, so they will be really tough again,” coach Rachel Gaynor said.
North Laurel will also be saying goodbye to a couple of rivals and adding some new ones due to KHSAA realignment.
Clay County, Montgomery County, and Clark County move out of the region. Harlan County, Madison Southern, East Jessamine, and West Jessamine are added
“Harlan has been good in their region, but I don’t know who all is in their region. We’ve usually done well against them when we were at the same meets,” Gaynor said.
The most experienced runners for North Laurel will be Scout Bundy and Garrett Napier. Both finished in the top 10 in the region last year.
The North Laurel girls will also be shorthanded with only three or four varsity runners.
Gabrielle Collier will be the Lady Jaguars most experienced runner. Sierra Hedrick will try to do both cross country and volleyball. Hedrick has been a member of the track team since her freshman year, but hasn’t run cross country. Kendall Myer will be another new face on the varsity team. They will also have two seventh graders, which can compete at the varsity level.
There are five sixth graders practicing with the high school, but they can only compete at middle school level.
Overall Gaynor sees even most of her experienced runners with a lot of work to do before they start competing.
“We’re just trying to take it slow and not get any injuries trying to get in shape too quick,” Gaynor said. “They came back in really bad shape, which is a little disappointing. You would like to think the returning ones would know how hard it is to get in shape,” Gaynor said.