BY RAY SCHAEFER
FOR THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
SANDY HOOK Philip Caudill had a headache.
Ashland’s cross country coach endured continuous cranial pain because of his screaming for his Kittens during Saturday’s Class 2A, Region 6 meet at Lakeside Elementary School. The young ladies provided a better- than-aspirin remedy — a 19-63 victory over Mason County.
Here’s how dominant Ashland was in winning its second straight region: five Kittens finished in the top seven.
“I thought we had a chance for five in the top nine, so they kinda overachieved even that goal,” Caudill said. “We knew it wasn’t about times; it was about places.”
Ashland’s places were like an Alabama song — close enough to perfect.
Sophomore Rebekah Howard won with a time of 19 minutes, 52.72 seconds, the only sub-20 clocking. Then, more maroon with an “A” on the front: junior Mary Alice Thornburg, second place, 20:12.27; seventhgrader Aubrey Hay, fourth in 20:44.40; junior Annie Whelan, fifth in 20:48.64; and eighth-grader Hayley Fielding, seventh in 21:11.16.
Besides bringing aspirin and checking The Weather Channel (rain is predicted for the state meet next Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington), Caudill also wants his team to remember the 1995 squad that finished third in the state — and maybe do better.
“I know we have the potential to,” Howard said. “I’m glad it rained (Saturday). That way we’re ready for next week.”
Boyd County and Russell finished third and fourth as teams. The five individual qualifiers: Riley Brown of East Carter; Fleming County’s Carys Earlywine; Kelsey Cyrus of Rowan County; Kaitlyn Atkins of Greenup County; and Fleming County’s Erin Peese.
Russell boys rule
Russell senior Jax Downs thought his Red Devils were the underdogs. Regardless, Russell edged Boyd County for the team title, 36-44.
“We knew what we had to do,” Downs said.
Downs, sophomore Jared Applegate, junior Jules Scott, sophomore Carson Kidwell and sophomore Tyler Conn all finished in the top 15. Russell won because Conn finished about 20 seconds ahead of Boyd County’s Keegan Layne.
Boyd County didn’t suffer a total loss weekend.
Junior Elijah Miller sported a “Stop Pre” T-shirt to honor his running hero, the late 1970s running legend Steve Prefontaine. He also made you think of the 1967 Three Dog Night hit “Eli’s Comin’” because he came and went, beating Downs by about 40 seconds for the individual crown.
So why is Pre his role model?
“I think (it was) the work ethic and the passion (Prefontaine) put into everything he did,” Miller said.
Miller won his second region title in 17:01.07, and passion is what you saw Saturday. He said he tried to work his way through the pack and speed up.
“Today it kinda got hard to do that because it was so cold,” Miller said. “I was shooting to break 16, but when I got to the second mile, it got really tough.”
Is one of Miller’s bucket list items to fly to Eugene, Oregon and hanging out at “Pre’s Rock?”
“I don’t know, maybe one of these days,” Miller said.
Mason County and Rowan County also qualified as teams. The five individual qualifiers were: Fleming County senior Robert Applegate; Rowan County freshman Lucas Hart; East Carter junior Caleb Handley; East Carter sophomore Curtis Giles and Ashland freshman Aiden Paddock.