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North Hardin teammates Marcus Terrell and Brandon Ignas were determined to push each other toward the Class 3-A, Region 2 individual title. It didn’t matter who won as long as it wasn’t someone not wearing Trojan blue and white.
For the first mile, the duo shared the lead Saturday morning at the Hardin County Fairgrounds. Terrell and Ignas were feeling great, and they were content to be together out front.
“I felt pretty confident that we could keep (the lead) the whole race,” Ignas said.
But things fell apart over the final 2 miles.
Terrell developed leg issues and Ignas dropped off the pace, unable to keep up with the lead pack. Terrell, a junior, slipped to fourth and Ignas, a senior, wound up sixth for the Trojans, who finished third.
“I was feeling pretty good,” Terrell said. “My legs were feeling good and it was great to be up at the top. But at the 2-mile, my legs – with the cold weather – started locking up on me.”
Bowling Green and Grayson County each scored 64 points, but the Purples beat the Cougars by way of the sixth-man tiebreaker to win the region team championship. The Trojans finished with 66 points and also qualified for the State meet in Lexington. The top four teams and the top five individuals not on those teams qualify for State.
It was another disappointing region finish for Terrell, who had expected to contend for the individual title. Instead, Grayson County sophomore Bret Crawford won by 1 second over Bowling Green sophomore Kyle Johnson and by 2 seconds over Greenwood junior Nick Howell.
Once Terrell’s legs started bothering him, he couldn’t keep up.
“I am a little disappointed, but it’s not my fault my legs locked up on me,” Terrell said. “The weather really got to me. We ran in the cold this week to try and get used to it, but it got a little too cold this weekend.”
At the 2-mile mark, Ignas surged ahead of Terrell and Crawford.
Ignas was in the lead until just before the 3-mile mark, when Crawford, Johnson and Howell passed the North Hardin tandem.
“… The third mile really hit me,” Ignas said. “The first 2 miles were a little quick for me. I was just trying to get to the front of the pack so I wouldn’t fall behind. That’s a little bit off my pace for the first mile. I wasn’t really surprised when those guys passed us.”
Sensing Ignas was slowing down, Josh Price quickened his pace. The Central Hardin senior wanted to catch Terrell and Ignas and finish in the top four, but could only overtake Ignas in the homestretch and placed fifth.
“I tried to reel them in,” Price said. “I got Brandon but couldn’t get Marcus. They both ran well.”
Even though he couldn’t earn a top-four finish, Price is satisfied leading the Bruins back to State. Freshman Christian Wright placed 12th, sophomore Jackson Cooper was 15th and senior Michael Price 18th for Central Hardin, which scored 80 points to place fourth.
Josh Price said he went out a little quicker than he normally does, but realized it would be best for him to hang back with his teammates to give the Bruins the best chance at qualifying.
“I was just trying to run a little conservatively because I went out a little too fast,” he said. “I wanted to put my team in the best position, so I held back. I wanted to try and catch the lead pack, but that didn’t go so well. We had more of a team-pack mentality more than having someone running up front the whole race. I think that worked really well for us.”
Senior Johannesburg Boulware was the only qualifier for the John Hardin Bulldogs, who finished sixth with 142 points. Boulware placed 19th.
GIRLS. John Russell got good news on two fronts Saturday.
The veteran North Hardin girls’ cross country coach gets to keep his hair and his Lady Trojans are heading back to State for the first time in four years.
With three runners in the top 20, North Hardin finished fourth to qualify for State during Saturday’s Class 3-A, Region 2 meet at the Hardin County Fairgrounds.
Prior to the meet, Russell made a little wager with the Lady Trojans. If they finished second, he would let them cut his hair.
“I’m a little disappointed, to be honest with you. I have this widow’s peak, and I’ve been trying to get enough guts to cut it off,” Russell deadpanned. “With me putting it on the line, it would’ve solved my problem for me.”
Returning to State for the first time in four years should help make up for it.
Freshman Katie Gilbert finished 10th, eighth-grader Sarah Wiseman was 17th and sophomore Jillian Shufelt placed 20th as the Lady Trojans scored 95 points – one point behind the Central Hardin Lady Bruins, who also qualified for State.
“It’s really good because it’s been a while since we sent a team,” said Gilbert, who was passed by Central Hardin junior Mackenzie Pennington in the final 100 meters. “We were one point away from Central. Mackenzie beat me in the last 100 meters and I was like ‘Darn.’ I could’ve done better, but at least we’re going. We’re going to try and make the best at State.”
So will Central Hardin, which placed third behind champion Bowling Green and runner-up Greenwood.
“I think we did great,” said Pennington, who finished eighth. “We’ve really came on the last two weeks of the season, and I’m really happy with how we’ve progressed. I’m just glad to be going with a team again and competing well and getting a chance to go to State.”
As eighth-graders in 2009, Pennington and fellow junior Abbie Chandler – who finished 16th – were the only Lady Bruins to advance to the state meet.
Pennington and Chandler relished that opportunity, but Pennington said it’s much better competing at State with all of her teammates.
“It was fun with just me and Abbie,” she said. “But once I got to experience the team going, it just made it so much more enjoyable. It’s a whole different experience getting to go with our team and not just my best friend.”
John Hardin was sixth with 129 points but qualified two runners in sophomore Kaitlyn Arel and senior Carlie Core. The top four teams and the first five individuals not on those teams move on to State.
Bowling Green dominated the meet, recording a perfect score of 15 points. Junior Ciara Scott won, followed by eighth-grader Madisyn Peeples, junior Lauren Wheeler, freshman Brittney Hansen and junior Sara-Emily Woodward.
The Lady Purples led from start to finish, and Pennington said it was impressive to watch – at least, what little she did see.
“They’re just phenomenal,” Pennington said. “It’s so expected of them to do great all the time because they’re so strong. And it’s not unexpected that they got a perfect score.
“They didn’t have too big of a lead at the beginning, but they started pulling away at the mile,” she added. “That’s when I realized they were going to win. They’re just running on a different level.”
Gilbert hopes the Lady Trojans can build their program like Bowling Green has over the last several years. And with such a young team, she thinks they can do it.
“Next year, our only senior will be Katherine Smith. So we have an exciting future head of us,” Gilbert said. “It’s definitely a bright one because it seems like every year we get better and better.”
Russell agreed with Gilbert that the future is bright for his team, but acknowledged they still have a lot of work to do to even get close to Bowling Green’s level.
“We’ve taken the first step: we’ve made it back to State as a team,” he said. “They did well. I’m pretty pleased with them. I knew it was going to be tight with us and Central. So I’ll take it.”
Josh Claywellcan be reached at (270) 505-1752 or email@example.com
CLASS 3-A, REGION 2 MEET
ELIZABETHTOWN— Results from Saturday’s region meet at the Hardin County Fairgrounds:
(56 RUNNERS, 8 TEAMS)
3. North Hardin (66)
4. Marcus Terrell 16:42.06
6. Brandon Ignas 16:47.81
11. Tyler Breeds 17:08.38
20. Robert Rupp 17:40.95
25. Daniel Luce 17:50.47
34. Jiovanni Rivera 18:31.92
49. Andrew Morgan 20:12.52
4. Central Hardin (80)
5. Josh Price 16:45.75
12. Christian Wright 17:09.37
15. Jackson Cooper 17:27.80
18. Michael Price 17:32.55
30. William Anderson 18:15.48
51. Oren Robbins 20:29.00
52. Jared Coffell 21:40.60
6. John Hardin (142)
19. Johannesburg Boulware 17:34.06
27. Kamren Parker 18:04.00
31. Stewart Slatton 18:22.22
32. Raleigh Boulware 18:23.48
33. Ethan George 18:27.59
37. Michael Kotarski 18:40.79
XX. Darren Cruz DNF
(51 RUNNERS, 7 TEAMS)
3. Central Hardin (94)
8. Mackenzie Pennington 20:51.66
14. Sydney Griswell 21:10.76
16. Abbie Chandler 21:15.29
19. Shelby Wade 21:52.20
40. Tori Briggs 23:32.54
45. Ashlie Mercado 25:14.88
46. Michelle Navarro 26:17.38
4. North Hardin (95)
10. Katie Gilbert 20:57.07
17. Sarah Wiseman 21:36.91
20. Jillian Shufelt 21:59.82
24. Alexis Shelby 22:19.31
28. Dezare Jackson 22:26.26
32. LaShana Reed 23:01.98
43. Dina Giron 24:29.17
6. John Hardin (129)
18. Kaitlyn Arel 21:42.20
25. Carlie Core 22:21.45
27. Sara Canada 22:24.70
31. Lyndsay Atkins 22:52.54
33. Jessica Stafford 23:09.48
36. Molly Haebig 23:18.04
39. Nina Kersey 23:31.85