By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Coming into Saturday’s Class 3A, Region 7 cross country meet at North Laurel, Lincoln County featured the top male and female runner in the region.
But neither one captured a region title.
Those honors went to Pulaski County’s Alyssa Hayden on the girls’ side and Mason Blevins for the boys. Hayden overtook Lincoln County’s Alex Bunch midway through the race to finish with a time of 19:53.31 to take home the girls’ region title, while Blevins finished strong with a time of 17:04.59 to claim the boys’ title.
North Laurel finished second in the boys’ race and will advance to Saturday’s state cross country meet in Lexington. The Jaguars edged Pulaski County, 64-66, to claim the runner-up spot behind Madison Central’s 36 points. Central also won the girls’ title with a 31 points, three ahead of Pulaski County’s 34.
The girls’ race was held first, and at the start, Bunch, who had turned in an impressive 19:36 earlier this season, bolted out to a huge lead and looked to have a region crown within her grasp until Hayden started to close the gap.
She overtook Bunch shortly before the runners approached the one large hill on the course, where she was able to stretch her lead out and cruise to the win with Bunch finishing second in 21:00.91.
South Laurel’s Alyssa Hamilton finished in 15th place with a time of 22:50.31 while her teammate, Laurence Beliveau, took 20th in 24:09.31. Cara Hibbard placed 30th with a time of 25:37.53, while Helena Beliveau took 34th (26:19.59) and Hayden Combs, 39th (28:43.56). Holly House was the top North Laurel finisher, coming in 23rd with a time of 24:37.06. Gabi Collier was the other Lady Jaguar runner, as she came in 36th in 26:59.12.
South Laurel finished in fifth place in the girls’ standings. Hamilton qualified for the state by having one of the top five individual times (not including runners from Madison Central and Pulaski County).
Lincoln County’s Brian Carlson was the favorite coming into the boys’ race as he led the region with a time of 16:30. And he started out quickly and held the lead for a good portion of the race, but had to settle for a third place finish with a time of 17:11.37.
First place belonged to Mason Blevins of Pulaski County, who crossed the finish line in 17:04.59, well ahead of second place Mason Crump of Madison Central, who finished in 17:10.50.
Garrison Burchell was the first North Laurel runner to finish, coming in sixth with a time of 17:35.56. Garrett Napier took eighth (17:42.56), Layne Gaynor, 14th (17:54.75), Scout Bundy, 17th (18:07.12), Stephen Causey, 24th (18:45.34), Trey Feltner, 35th (19:55.24), and Ryan Abner, 43rd (20:17.81).
Justin Phelps was the first South Laurel finisher as he placed 28th in 19:09.06. Jonathan Hamilton came in 29th (19:10.88), Hayden Wilson, 40th (20:13.25), Zach Payne, 44th (20:23.18), Trey Valentine, 46th (20:39.00), Trevor Johnson, 54th (21:50.12), and Zach Davis, 62nd (23:15.97). The Cardinals finished in seventh place in the team standings.
The Class 3A state cross country meet will be Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington with a starting time of 1:30 for the girls and 2:15 for the boys.