By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The North Laurel boys cross country team will be making their fifth straight trip to the KHSAA State Cross Country championships. The state meet will be held Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“We have improved our finish every year, last year finishing 13th out of 28 teams. Our goal is to again improve our finish and hopefully crack the top 10,” North Laurel coach Rachel Gaynor said.
North Laurel qualified with a second-place finish in the region championship last weekend on their home course. Madison Central won the meet with 36 points to North Laurel’s 64 points. Points are given for the finish of the top five individual runners for each team. Pulaski County was a close third with 66 points.
“Of course, you always want to win but we were happy with our runner-up finish because Madison Central and Pulaski Co. are both very good teams,” Gaynor said.
Garrison Burchell was the top runner for North Laurel. His time of 17:35.56 was good for sixth place and less than 30 seconds behind winner Mason Blevins of Pulaski County (17:04.59). North Laurel’s Garrett Napier, a freshman, placed eighth (17:42.56).
“Garrison Burchell and Garrett Napier both had good races and finished in the top 10,” Gaynor said. “Layne Gaynor and Scout Bundy did not have their best day but they had been consistent for us all year and unfortunately just did not have it on this day. However, their running better would not have changed the outcome.”
Layne Gaynor (17:54.75) finished 14th after battling injuries much of the year. Bundy (18:07.12) was the 17th runner across the finish line. Also picking up points for North Laurel was Stephen Causey (18:45.34) in 24th place.
“Steven Causey had his best race of the season and was the reason we got second place instead of third,” Gaynor said.
Eighth grader Trey Feltner (19:55.24) and freshman Ryan Abner (20:17.81) also compete for North Laurel, finishing 35th and 43rd.
The South Laurel boys placed seventh and did not qualify for the state meet. Their top runners were Justin Phelps (19:09.06) in 28th place and Jonathan Hampton (19:10.88) in 29th place.
South Laurel will be sending one girl to the state meet. Alyssa Hamilton, a freshman, ran 22:50.31 for 15th place. To qualify individually, you have to be in the top five on a non-qualifying team. Laurence Beliveau (24:09.31) missed by one spot earning her way to the state meet. Holly House (24:37.06) of North Laurel also just missed making it to the state meet by two spots.
If you would like to support local runners at the state meet, the girls run at 1:30 and the boys at 2:15 Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Par. Admission is $10.00 ages 11 to adult.