LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY — The Eaton boys and girls cross country teams placed third and fourth in the Tates Creek Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 1, in Lexington, Kentucky.
“We’ve been making the trip to Kentucky since 1979, and look forward to traveling to Lexington every year to compete against many of the top cross country programs in Kentucky,” said Eaton coach Randy McKinney.
“The competition this year was outstanding, with eight state-ranked boys’ teams and six ranked girls’ teams competing in the invitational. We knew going in the race would be decided by the placement of our pack in relation to the pack of the top five teams,” McKinney said. “In the end, our guys ran a great race, beating six of the ranked teams. Our pack ran really well, placing six in the top 39 and our top five in the top 21 places in the field of 150 runners.”
“The Lexington area had rain on Friday morning, but the course drained very well prior to Saturday,” McKinney said. “Overall the course was in great condition, the sky was overcast and the temperature was very comfortable for race time. This time of the season it can be rare to have great racing conditions, but we lucked out and had a great day.”
The men’s team placed a close third, just five points behind Paul Dunbar from Louisville, and 11 points behind Covington Catholic.
Seth Gard ran a very smart and focused race using Alex Mortimer of Tates Creek High School to pull him along and break the 16 minute barrier, according to McKinney.
“Seth challenged Alex before he lost contact with Alex at about the two and a quarter mile mark,” McKinney said. “Alex is the No. 2 state-ranked male cross country athlete in Kentucky who has consistently broken the 16 minute barrier this season. Seth finished second overall in a time of 15:50 — the second fastest time in the Eaton’s men’s program history.”
Eaton runners Wyatt Cox, Tanner Titkemeyer and Cole Bulach started off well, while Steve Cottle and Alex McCarty were slightly behind the front of the leading pack. Cox and Titkemeyer finished in 12th and 13th place in 16:52 and 16:53 respectively, while Bulach finished close behind in 17th place in 16:59.
McCarty pushed hard over the last 1.1 miles of the course, placing 21st overall in 17:06, and Cottle ended up 39th overall in 17:38.
Freshmen Alex Newport and LeKendrich Brown finished as the seventh and eighth finishers, placing 53rd and 55th respectively in 18:12 and 18:15.
Other Eagles finishers included Gideon Smith (71st, 18:49), Dylan Suding (75th, 18:57), Darius Benton (79th, 19:02), Mike Arys (85th, 19:06), Jacob Hickman (88th, 19:14), KeAnthony Bales (99th, 19:41), Winson Lam (125th, 20:54), and Todd Coates (139th, 22:33).
The Lady Eagles also had an outstanding day in Lexington, according to McKinney.
Going into the meet, the girls ended up finishing fourth behind three state-ranked teams and ahead of three ranked teams.
“The girls continue to improve and surprise me each time they race,” said McKinney. “That is very exciting and rewarding for the girls and our overall program.”
Katie Bassler once again led the way for the Lady Eagles with a ninth place finish in 20:45. Sasha Taxter and Claire Meyer made a strong move along with Bassler before falling slightly off the pace, finishing 19th and 20th respectively in 21:23 and 21:25.
“Gabby Best made a strong move over the last mile of the race to finish 28th overall in a time of 21:40,” McKinney said. Destiny Brubaker was close behind in 34th place in 21:52.
The rest of the Eaton runners included Brooke Caplinger (35th, 21:53), Brianna Baker (53rd, 22:52), Alexis Owen (73rd, 25:12), Nina Albinus (84th, 26:23), Jaque Owen (87th, 26:41) and Madi Meredith (95th, 27:41).
“Almost every one of our men and women had a personal season best time on a very tough and challenging course,” said McKinney. “I believe that when we boarded the bus and headed back to Ohio, I had a very satisfied group of athletes. They all accepted the challenge of the overnight trip, the rolling course, the talented field of athletes, and the outstanding teams we encountered at the Tates Creek Invitational. I feel very good about the way both teams are improving individually and as a team.”
“I, too, left Kentucky very satisfied and proud of the efforts of all our individuals,” he added. “They are all working hard and are excited about the many positives that are happening each time they race.”
Eaton will race at home this Saturday, Oct. 8, at their own Ed Leas Fall Classic meet, at Fort St. Clair Park.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH