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Coming off their fifth consecutive regional championship, the Trimble County girls cross country team found a competitive state field waiting on them in Lexington last weekend.
Probably the most competitive Kentucky Girls Class “A” State race in the past decade occurred at the Kentucky Horse Park Saturday, Nov. 15. Only 14 points separated third place from ninth in the state meet and just four 4 points kept the sixth place Lady Raiders from finishing third overall.
“We knew going into this race it would be very close. We talked a lot about how each point would count. Other than St. Henry and Walton Verona, the rest of the teams were very evenly matched and it showed today,” Coach Jeff Vincent said after the race.
St. Henry placed first with 44 points, Walton Verona came in second with 72 points and Villa Madonna rounded out the top three with 183 points for the day. Fourth place finished Fairview accumulated 184 points, while Holy Cross Covington was fifth with 185 points. Following sixth-place Trimble County, 187 points, were Green County in seventh with 191 points, Model in eighth with 197 points and Lexington Christian in ninth with 198 points. Danville finished tenth with 297 accumulated points.In all, there were twenty-one teams and 175 individuals that competed in the Girls’ Class “A” State meet.
The Lady Raiders’ sixth place finish makes the seventh consecutive top 10 finish for the Trimble County girls’ program. The past five years have included top 5 finishes, which the girls missed by only 2 points this season.
“Of course I would rather finish in the top three, however I’m happy with our finish today. I think all of the girls ran their best and that’s all you can ask for. Somebody came up to me after the race indicated we didn’t place well. Sixth place in the state race is an excellent finish. This person didn’t mean any harm, however I think they just expected us to be in the top three or four since we have been the past five years. I think it’s a good thing when people start thinking a sixth place finish was an off day for our program. I take it as a compliment. packed up well, as only 44 seconds separated their first and fifth-place runners.
Taylor Ball, celebrating his 17th birthday, led the Raider pack, finishing 18th overall in 17:17. This was a new personal best for him and a school record time.
Following close behind was teammate Daryl Heveline who placed 21st in 17:22, also a personal best time. Justin Perkins was Trimble’s next finisher, crossing the line in 34th place in a personal record time of 17:46.
Senior Kyle Bland finished 42nd in 17:52 to end his high school career. Kyle Howdyshell, after falling down in mile one, made a spectacular comeback to finish 54th in 18:01, another personal best time.
Kevin Bailey also achieved a personal best with his 79th place finish 18:23. Matt Stethen rounded out the pack, finishing 106th in 18:49.
Following the meet, the Raiders were presented the fourth place state trophy on stage in front of a large crowd at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Vincent said, “Words can’t express how proud I am of this team. There isn’t a team out there that deserves this more. It took each one of them to accomplish this finish and they did it. They had their perfect race today; what a team effort. This is a special group of guys and I could go on and on about how each one of them made this happen. They have been willing to do everything I’ve asked this season. They were so focused for this race and I knew we were going to perform well. They really impressed me today, and not just in racing. Their gutsy and courageous attitudes, sportsmanship, spiritual leadership and their willingness to give up self-glory for the team mentality really inspired me this weekend.”
The Trimble County boys cross country team ended their season as NCKC Conference Runner-up, Region 3rd place and state qualifier, and finishing 4th overall in the state championship meet.