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The North Central Kentucky Conference (NCKC) has developed into a cross country powerhouse of competition over the last several years. The NCKC has produced 1 state individual champion, 1 state runner-up individual, 15 first team all-state runners, 10 second team all state runners, 1 team state championship, 3 team state runner-ups, and a flurry of all-region runners. The NCKC teams are Gallatin County, Carroll County, Williamstown, Henry County, Owen County, Walton Verona, and Trimble County.
So to throw all of those teams together for the NCKC Championship typically means heated, sweat, heart-throbbing competition between middle school, junior varsity, and varsity teams.
The girls’ varsity race painted a perfect picture of what the NCKC Championship is all about. At the end of the race, the score was #2 state-ranked Walton Verona 28 and #4 ranked Trimble County 28 which meant the race would be determined by the 6th runner. Unfortunately for the Lady Raiders it was Walton’s 6th runner who came through the finish first which resulted in the first heart-break of the day.
The Lady Raiders were led by sophomore, Jessica Cooley. Cooley placed 3rd overall in 22:13. Following close behind her was Allison Joyce in 4th place 22:14. 7th grader, Erin Gonterman was Trimble’s next runner. Gonterman placed 6th overall in 22:32. Brandi Chappell finished 11th overall in 23:36. Danyal Adams placed 14th in 24:38. Hannah Davis finished 18th overall in 25:17. And Alex Rand placed 19th in 25:53. Jessica Cooley, Brandi Chappell, Allison Joyce, and Erin Gonterman were named to the NCKC All-Conference Team for their top 10 finish. In the girls’ JV race, Jessica Smith placed 3rd overall.
Coach Vincent had this to say following the race, “I’m proud of all of our girls today. I think each one of them gave me their best effort and that is all that I ask of them. Walton’s girls are very talented. Getting beat like this is always tough but several positives came out of it for us. This team is finally coming together and it is at the right time of the season.”
The boys’ varsity race was no different as it produced another heated battle between #3 ranked Walton Verona and #5 ranked Trimble County. This one also came down to the wire however at the end of the race it was Walton Verona 33 and Trimble County 34, the Bearcats advantage by one point. The result was yet another heart-break for the Runnin’ Raiders.
The Raiders were led by Taylor Ball. Ball placed 2nd overall in 18:43. Daryl Heveline placed 4th in 19:07. Justin Perkins finished 8th in 19:20. Kyle Bland placed 9th in 19:22. Kyle Howdyshell finished 10th in 19:38. Matt Stethen placed 13th in 20:10. And Mike Baird placed 16th in 20:40. In the boys’ JV race, Jade Wheeler took first place honors. Chris Bailey placed 2nd. And Brandon Liter placed 4th.
Taylor Ball, Daryl Heveline, Justin Perkins, Kyle Bland, and Kyle Howdyshell received NCKC All-Conference Honors for their top 10 finish.
“This race was so exciting to coach. I am proud of each one of the guys. They raced every inch of the way however Walton edged us today. They (Walton) are a good team and well-coached so our boys shouldn’t hang their head over this one. We walked away from this race earning their respect.”
The action didn’t stop there as the middle school races were just as exciting. The Trimble County Middle School girls’ team suffered their first loss of the season in a close race with Owen County. The Lady Raiders were led by Olivia Cooley. Cooley placed 2nd overall. Morgan Chappell finished 3rd. Kirsten Baird placed 10th. Katie Gonterman finished 12th. Amber Bowyer placed 14th. Bonnie Wilson 16th. Kayla Bailey 17th. Allanis Rosell 18th. And Megan West 19th.
The boys’ middle school race gave the Trimble County Cross Country team some relief however as they edged out Williamstown in a nail-biter. The TCMS boys were led by Christian Apel. Apel placed 2nd overall. Tray Robbins placed 3rd. Cory Bailey 7th. Connor Ball 8th. Dustin Wish 15th. Brennan Kunkel 19th. Jonathon Papai 20th. Robert Harris 25th. Tanner Draque 27th. Dale Davis 28th. And David Arteaga 29th.
“I am very proud of our middle school teams,” said head coach Jeff Vincent. “ They have made so much progress this year. The girls’ were upset today however this was only their first loss of the season. All of the girls ran well. Owen County had a great race. The boys’ race was exciting. All the boys’ ran tough. They are a competitive group and wanted this win. The future continues to look bright for Trimble County Cross Country.”