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If all goes according to plan tonight, the Elizabethtown and North Hardin track teams likely will be celebrating region title sweeps.
The Class 3-A, Region 2 and the 2-A, Region 2 meets are tonight. All four squads have been at the top of their respective regions for the last several years, and that’s exactly where all four hope to stay.
Elizabethtown’s girls are vying for their ninth consecutive region title, while the North Hardin boys and girls and the Elizabethtown boys are shooting for No. 6.
But as the coaches of those teams know, championships won’t just be handed to their athletes.
“I feel our kids are pretty loose,” Elizabethtown coach Jeff McNeil said. “They are excited to defend our regional title crowns and I think they are up to the task. They are focused and working on the little things, the techniques that will make them better on Thursday. I feel that we will perform well because they expect to perform well and that is a good demeanor to have.”
Central Hardin is hosting the 3-A meet at 5:30 at Bruin Field. Other region teams are Barren County, Bowling Green, Grayson County, Greenwood, John Hardin, Ohio County and Warren Central.
The Trojans and Lady Trojans are the runaway favorites to win. The only question is how much will they win by? The North Hardin boys have scored 200 or more points three times this season.
“I believe we would have to have a major, monumental meltdown to not win region,” North Hardin boys’ coach James Webb said. “I believe that shouldn’t be an issue. I do feel they’re confident. I don’t see much nervousness, and they’re loose. They do understand that we have to clear this hurdle to reach our goal. We’re on a journey to try and make history occur. We’ve got to get to State to make that happen.”
That goal is sweeping the state titles next weekend at the University of Louisville. Both North Hardin squads are ranked first in 3-A by kytrackxc.com.
“Anything can happen, but hopefully they’re relaxed and will do what they’re accustomed to doing,” Webb said. “We’ll be fine if they do that. We don’t want it to seem like we’re nervous, but we’re not going to let the little silly things mess us up. We’re going to focus, focus, focus. I’m a little worried about them looking ahead, but we have to take care of region first.”
North Hardin girls’ coach John Russell is just as confident in his Lady Trojans. He said they got the postseason off to a solid start by winning their 17th straight conference title last week at Nelson County.
“We need to come out and do what we’ve done every day all year long,” Russell said. “If we stay focused on our goals and run our best, we’ll do well. I hope they take care of business. We maintain doing just like we always have. They are pretty well relaxed and pretty fresh. Everything is about peaking at the right time.”
Elizabethtown and LaRue County are competing at Bardstown at 5:30. Other region teams are Adair County, Allen County-Scottsville, Breckinridge County, Butler County, Edmonson County, Franklin-Simpson, Hart County, Marion County, South Warren, Taylor County, Warren East and Washington County.
On paper, the Lady Panthers appear to be a lock to win region again – though McNeil said his team can’t overlook South Warren and Warren East.
“South Warren and Warren East have really come on strong this year and will be pushing us,” he said. “We will have to be flawless to win both titles again. We can do it, but it will definitely be tough.”
McNeil expects a close race between his team, South Warren and Warren East for the boys’ title.
“It will definitely not be a walk in the park,” he said. “We will have to be on our ‘A’ game.”
Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.