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PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Stewart wins first conference title (10/31)

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By Josh Claywell

By JOSH CLAYWELL jclaywell@thenewsenterprise.com

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BRANDENBURG — Memo to anyone running against Andrew Stewart: Don’t give the North Hardin High School sophomore any more motivation than he already has.

Stewart won the Lincoln Trail Heartland Conference cross country meet on Thursday, crossing the finish line in a season-best time of 16 minutes, 55.90 seconds at the Brandenburg Telephone Co. headquarters.

“As a runner, I have to stay humble. If I get cocky in the race, I’ll lose or I won’t perform as well,” said Stewart, who won for the fifth time in six races.

Stewart beat John Hardin sophomore John Egan for the second consecutive race. Egan finished 16 seconds behind in 17:11.50.

Egan finished second to Stewart for the second consecutive race. Stewart won the North Hardin Harrier Fall Classic by 15 seconds on Saturday. After that race, Egan thought he’d have a shot at beating Stewart.

“I think he’s a great runner,” Stewart said. “Maybe that was the competitive spirit coming out in him.”

And after hearing of Egan’s comment, Stewart didn’t know what to think.

“I was confused. I didn’t know if he was challenging me or just being competitive,” Stewart said. “If he wants to challenge me, I’m going to give him a challenge. I’m not going to back down.”

But for the first 5 minutes of the race, Stewart and Egan held back and let Meade County junior Sean Breeds and John Hardin sophomore James Kubisch hold the lead.

That didn’t last much longer as Stewart moved to the front of the pack and gained a 19-second lead over Egan and the rest of the field at the two-mile mark.

“The only way to beat me is to run faster than me,” Stewart said. “The game plan was to stay in the front of the pack. You don’t want to get caught in the back.”

Stewart extended his lead to 28 seconds with just a half-mile remaining.

“If you were to tell me at the beginning of the season that I would have five wins in six races, I’d think you were crazy,” Stewart said with a laugh. “It’s a relief, I’ll tell you that. It’s like a load off.”

Kubisch finished third (17:17.10), Breeds was fourth (17:34.40), Elizabethtown sophomore Tyler Larkin was fifth (17:51.80), North Hardin junior Shawn Henderson was sixth (17:54.80) and John Hardin senior Eddie Alcock was seventh (17:56.30).

Meade County sophomore Zach Bowen finished eighth (17:56.60), Meade County junior Chad Medley was ninth (17:57.00), John Hardin senior Ryan Ludwick was 10th (18:01.10), Central Hardin’s Patrick Shartzer was 11th (18:12.00), Meade County junior Joseph Humphrey was 12th (18:13.50), Meade County sophomore Matthew Fackler was 13th (18:15.60) and Elizabethtown junior Trent Parker was 14th (18:20.40).

The top seven finishers are named to the first-team All-Conference, while the next seven comprise the second team.

John Hardin won the team title with 37 points, avenging a 30-point loss on Saturday to Meade County. Meade County finished second (46), Elizabethtown was third (82), North Hardin fourth (96), Central Hardin fifth (125), Breckinridge County sixth (163) and Fort Knox seventh (170).

Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752