By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
LEXINGTON - North Laurel has been consistent in recent years when the cross country season winds down. They show well in the region, advance to the state meet, and run even better there.
“We’ve run pretty good at the region and tended to run pretty good here. We didn’t run very good today though,” North Laurel Coach Rachel Gaynor said.
The Jaguars finished runner up in the region and were hoping for a top 10 finish at Saturday’s KHSAA State Cross Country Championship at the Kentucky Horse Park. Instead, they placed 21st out of the 27 team field.
Gaynor wasn’t sure what went wrong as she watched each runner cross the finish line.
“Everybody’s had the same conditions. It was cold and now it’s turned to warm again, so that’s not a factor,” Gaynor said. “Some of them were very nervous, more so than maybe in the past.”
Garrison Burchell was the first runner to finish for North Laurel. His time of 17:30.07 placed him 55th. Layne Gaynor ran an 18:03.98 for 92nd place out of 223 runners.
Four years ago, Robert Melton recorded the best finish by a North Laurel runner when he placed in the mid 30s. That was Layne Gaynor’s freshman year and he finished in the 40s.
This year’s winner was Chase Geary of Muhlenberg County with a time of 15:58.66, followed by Patrick Gregory at 16:14.39. Those times were slightly slower than years past and also slower than the other classes that ran earlier in the day.
Freshman Garrett Napier (18:33.54)was the third finisher for North Laurel and sophomore Scout Bundy (19:07.77) fourth. Stephen Causey (19:19.50) rounds out the seniors on this year’s team.
“It was Stephen’s first year. Cross country is a sport where you kind of need to do it more than one year. In that respect, Stephen did good,“ Gaynor said. “Garrison and Layne will be hard to replace just from experience and they tend to run better in bigger meets.”
Also running for North Laurel were freshman Ryan Abner (20:26.01) and eighth grader Trey Feltner (20:59.18).
If the underclassmen all return and work hard, Gaynor likes what she has left after the seniors depart.
“We’ve got some good runners, so hopefully individually they will improve, which will make us better as a team,” Gaynor said.
The only South Laurel runner to qualify for the state championship was Alyssa Hamilton. The Lady Cardinals freshman ran a 23:30.50 in the 5K race to finish 173rd out of the 223 runners.