LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — LEXINGTON – Unlike some sports, just making it to the state championship in cross country is reason for celebration. There are almost 500 runners and 60 teams that converge on the Kentucky Horse Park for the State Cross Country Championship with only a handful in the elite class that will finish at the front of the pack.
“When you get here, it is almost like you have arrived. You have made it to state. You realize you are probably not going to have those top 10 finishers, but you are looking for your overall best,” South Laurel Coach Carrie Kirby said.
Overall bests are not easy to reach here either. Most of the South Laurel and North Laurel runners were not familiar with running in packs this large. The temperature was favorable, but the wind relentlessly pushed against runners on much of the course.
“Until you experience the wind coming off the Interstate here, you have no idea. We talked to the runners about if they were ever running by themselves to move up to a pack so they could use that pack to help break the wind,” Kirby said.
North Laurel’s Scout Bundy and South Laurel’s Sydney McWhorter were the top local runners. McWhorter placed 71st in the girls’ race with a time of 20:59.80 and Bundy finished 68th among the boys with a time of 17:33.73.
“Scout ran another good race. He’s been consistent for the last five or six weeks,” North Laurel Coach Rachel Gaynor said.
It was the first state meet for McWhorter, a seventh grader. Bundy has made several trips with North Laurel and should make one more as a senior.
“We’re pleased to be at the state meet for the sixth straight year with the boys’ team. We are thrilled about that,” Gaynor said.
Also competing for the North Laurel boys were Garrett Napier (18:14.86), John Bowling (18:38.37), Caleb Schumacher (19:22.34), Noah Smith (19:34.76), and Trey Feltner (20:17.74). All North Laurel runners will be back next season.