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Marcus Terrell believes he didn’t get off to the best start this season.
Coming off a solid sophomore campaign, the North Hardin junior thought his times weren’t where they should be.
After Terrell ran a 17:03 in the St. Xavier Tiger Run, his times ranged from 16:38 to 17:54 in the next five races. Terrell hit his stride in late October – he won the Central Kentucky Run for the Gold and the Lincoln Trail Heartland Conference meet – when he set and broke his personal record in consecutive races.
“At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think I was doing that hot,” Terrell said. “I was just running basic times. Toward the end of the year, I figured that I should start stepping up. I was competing pretty good and getting some good times.
“The motivation of running at conference and region and State just made me kick it up another gear.”
He finished an area-best fourth in the Class 3-A, Region 2 championship, and then came in 24th to help the Trojans place fifth at State.
“That was the best feeling, just being able to place fifth in the state,” Terrell said. “That’s the best we’ve done in a while. Me being the team captain, it was great to watch.”
Terrell now realizes what the old cliché of it doesn’t matter how you start but how you finish really means.
And the area’s head coaches realized just how good a season Terrell had as they chose him the Area Runner of the Year on the annual News-Enterprise All-Area Cross County Team for the second straight season.
Terrell received all six possible first-place votes and 30 points to easily top LaRue County junior Adam Sandidge, who had the other first-place vote and 17 points. Meade County freshman Jacob Robertson was third with 11 points.
“It means a lot,” Terrell said of winning the award again. “I wasn’t really expecting to win it this year since things didn’t start out so well. I started off worse than I did last year. I just started off slow and I didn’t think I had it at the beginning of the year. But I’m glad I won it.”
Since 2002, only two other runners – North Hardin’s Andrew Stewart and John Hardin’s Aundreas Lopez – have won Runner of the Year twice. Stewart was a three-time selection from 2008-10.
“I feel a little pressure now that I’ve won it two years in a row,” Terrell said. “I know people are going to be gunning for me because I’ve won it for two years. But I’m going to work hard to stay up there.”
SOPHOMORE OF THE YEAR. Like Terrell, North Hardin’s Robert Rupp wasn’t satisfied with the way his season started.
The low point was a 19:59 at the Greater Louisville Classic, but Rupp bounced back with four races under 17:45 and set a PR of 17:15.34 at State. And he developed into one of the Trojans’ top four runners along with Terrell, senior Brandon Ignas and junior Tyler Breeds.
“I’m just excited that I came out and had a good year,” Rupp said. “I didn’t expect to have as good a year as I did. I passed Tyler, one of my teammates I had been trying to catch up to all year. He’s been one of the ones I’ve focused on because he’s been like a mentor to me. The other guys have helped me out, too.
“I had some bad races, but I learned from them,” he added. “And I made some friends on other teams, and that’s helped me. It’s been a great year.”
His year is even better now that he’s been chose the Area Sophomore of the Year.
Rupp received three first-place votes and 21 points to edge Meade County’s Jonathan Howard, who garnered three first-place votes and 19 points. Elizabethtown’s Chas Warden had the other first-place vote and 11 points.
“First of all, I’m shocked that they would even think of me,” Rupp said. “I just didn’t think people knew who I was. I just went out there and did my thing. I just wanted people to know I helped out my team.”
Rupp said he owes a lot of the credit for his success to Terrell and Ignas.
“Marcus and Brandon helped me a lot,” he said. “I was the new guy and they helped me get better. They were really good about that. I plan to work a lot harder next year.”
COACH OF THE YEAR. Meade County’s Larry Garner doesn’t think he deserved to win the award for the fourth straight year.
After all, his Green Wave finished four spots behind the Trojans and fell short of their goal of placing in the top three at State. Garner feels James Jackson, who shared the award with him last season, should’ve won it this year.
“Look what North Hardin did at State. I mean, my goodness,” Garner said. “That was one of the most impressive performances I have seen in a long time. Jackson deserves a lot of credit for that.
“This is the first year we left the state meet with our heads down,” he added. “We were very disappointed in how that went down. We went going after the No. 3 team, but it didn’t work out for us.”
That didn’t matter to Garner’s fellow coaches. Garner received two first-place votes and 20 points to top Jackson, who had three firsts and 17 points. Elizabethtown’s Jack Breunig (11 points) and Central Hardin’s Tommy Blair (10) received the other two firsts.
“I appreciate the fact that they recognize what’s going on here,” Garner said. “I think top to bottom, we do have a very good program. We are able to graduate kids and still stay at that level. That’s always been my goal. I want to keep us at that top level all the time, and I think it’s working. The kids are buying into it. I appreciate them recognizing the longevity of success we’ve had the last four or five years now.”
But he still thinks Jackson and the Trojans had the better season.
“Without a doubt,” Garner said. “What he did at State … his guys ran masterful. We definitely did not step up and they did. That’s what counts more than anything. It doesn’t matter what happens at conference or region.”
ALL-AREA TEAM. Terrell was joined on the five-runner first team by Sandidge, Meade County senior Will Strickland, Robertson and Ignas.
Making the five-member second team were Central Hardin senior Josh Price, John Hardin senior Johannesburg Boulware, Breeds, Rupp and Howard.
Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.