LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY — Eaton’s cross country program made the most its annual trip to the Bluegrass Invitational in Lexington, Kentucky this past weekend.
The meet was held at the Masterson Station Park — home course of the University of Kentucky.
The boys team placed first overall in the field of 33 teams and the Lady Eagles placed second in the field of 30 teams.
“I’m very pleased with the overall finish of both teams, but most pleased with the overall focus and effort of the teams,” Eaton coach Randy McKinney said. “We keep talking about trying to move into a new individual zone of discomfort each time we go out to race. Individually, I have been challenging each of them to reach deep down and try to go beyond their comfort zone. Our young men and women are doing an outstanding job trying to do exactly that and they are beginning to see the individual progress, which ultimately equates to overall team improvement.”
The boys team captured the team title with 89 points to runner up Nolensville (TN) High School, who scored 111 points, followed by Kentucky powerhouse Lexington Catholic in third with 122 points.
“We knew going into the meet that we could finish on top in the team standings if we put together a strong pack race,” McKinney said. “When the race ended and the points were tabulated that is exactly what the boys had accomplished.”
Alex McCarty led the way with an outstanding third place overall finish in the 237 runner field with a time of 16:44.
According to McKinney, McCarty ran an outstanding race moving up from 14th place early to move into the second place position between the mile and two mile mark before getting out-kicked in the last 100 meters by Mitchell Miracle from Bell County High School, who finished in 16:41.
Cole Bulach continued his strong season with a 12th place finish in 17:15, followed by Tanner Titkemeyer, who finished 21st in 17:31. Alex Newport was 28th in 17:39, Jack Bortel was 30th in 17:49, Steven Cottle was 36th in 17:56 and Dylan Suding rounded out the top seven with a 52nd place finish in 18:17.
Other Eaton finishers were Ben Brewer 69th in 18:37, Todd Coates 74th in 18:44, Austin Kopf 75th in 18:45, Lekendric Brown 89th in 19:03, Gideon Smith 105th in 19:17, Gabe Brown 138th in 19:56, Austin Pugh 144th in 20:03, Logan Cottle 146th in 20:04, KeAnthony Bales 155th in 20:16, Logan Sizemore 176th in 20:53, Isaac Rohrer 189th in 21:19, Cole Hauser 208th 22:05, Braden Clabaugh 218th in 22:38 and AJ Hewitt 221st in 22:42.
The girls team placed second overall to Ohio Division I powerhouse St. Ursula Academy.
“We knew going in that St. Ursula was the team to beat, but we also knew they were tough, so the girls just focused on trying to run a strong team race and let their individual performances take care of the team placement,” McKinney said.
Katie Bassler again led the way for the Lady Eagles with an 11th place overall finish in the 196 runner field in a time of 20:35. She was followed by Claire Meyer (28th) in 21:44, Sasha Taxter (31st) in 21:53, Destiny Brubaker (36th) in 22:02, Brooke Caplinger (57th) in 22:48, Brianna Baker (58th) in 22:48 and Alexis Owen (77th) in 23:35 to round out the Eagles top seven finishers.
Other Eaton finishers were Cari Metz (79th) in 23:39, Gabby Best (86th) in 23:44, Rachel Buckler (92nd) in 23:56, Arica Hamilton (94th) in 24:03, Olivia McCarty (149th) in 26:45, Nina Albinus (158th) in 27:20, Katy Rich (175th) in 29:25 and Maddie Meredith (184th) in 31:17.
“We had a great weekend for both our teams with many strong individual performances. We had great weather, a strong field of competition and the opportunity to watch and support two former Eaton greats compete in two NCAA Division one races,” McKinney said.
Michelle McKinney, running for the University of Kentucky, ran second most of the race before losing some ground in the last mile to finish 6th overall in a time 17:40 for the 5,000 meter race.
Seth Gard, running for Ohio University, placed 38th overall in a time of 25:54 for the 8,000 meter (5 Mile) race.
“The Eaton athletes did a great job supporting our two former Eagles during their individual races. Michelle and Seth thought it was great to have their former teammates and former high school coaches and program cheering them on while they raced,” coach McKinney said.
Eaton returns to action this weekend hosting its own invitational at Fort St. Clair Park on Saturday.
“We are expecting over 60 schools equating to around 2,500 athletes to compete in one of the 12 races slated to kick off at 8:30 am on Saturday morning,” McKinney said. “We have many state ranked teams that will be competing in the meet on Saturday.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH