GREENVILLE, Ky. – Despite having less preparation than normal leading up to the regional meet, Henderson County’s girls cross country team qualified for the state meet for the second straight year.
The Lady Colonels finished fourth in the 11-team field in Saturday morning’s 3-A meet at Muhlenberg County High School’s East Campus and earned one of six team qualifying spots for next week’s 3-A state meet at the Bourbon Cross Country Club in Paris.
“It was really important that we go back to state for the second straight year,” said junior Hallie Mattingly, who finished eighth in the individual standings to lead Henderson County’s runners.
During the first half of the regular season, Henderson County’s teams competed only in 2,500-meter meets in certain locations. “We agreed with the (school) board and did what they asked us to do, by not going to Lexington or Louisville or Bowling Green,” Henderson County coach Mike Sprague said.
The team was training to compete in 5K events while competing in events run at half that distance.
Leading up to the regional meet, Henderson County ran in two 5Ks at Trigg County and the Fast Cats Classic in Daviess County. “We were looking for places where we can we find a landing spot that is close just to get into 5Ks, just to see where we are,” Sprague said.
Based on the limited regular-season results, Sprague thought the team was certainly in the top six in the region. It was a better day than that for the Lady Colonels, who returned five of the seven runners from last year’s state qualifying that finished fifth in the region.
Daviess County, which had all seven of its runners finish in the top 10, ran away with the team title with 21 points. With 119 points, Henderson County was close on the heels of runner-up McCracken County with 92 points and third-place Graves County with 93.
Mattingly, who was third in the region last year, ran the two-lap circuit around the school campus in 20:15.33 as the runners contended with the first chilly meet of the season.
“It sucked. It was really cold,” she said. “I didn’t think I was running as fast as I was.”
Five of Henderson County’s other six runners placed between 22nd and 37th, led by freshman MacKenzie Webb, who like Mattingly was a member of last year’s regional team.
“It was very cool. It was kind of difficult,” Webb said of Saturday’s race. “I pushed and wanted to try to make it as second on our team.”
Allina Decker finished 25th, Alyssa Shelton 29th, Allison Lucas 35th, Sara Krampe 37th and Destany Pike 54th.
Decker, Shelton and Krampe ran in the regional meet last season, while Lucas and Pike are new to the squad.
McCracken County’s Maggie Aydt took a 40-second victory over runner-up Emily Ann Roberts of Daviess County for the individual region title. Aydt ran the course in 18:45.85.
After a season full of uncertainty because of the COVID pandemic, Mattingly was glad to be able to compete in the regional meet even with some unusual requirements such as carrying masks while running in order to put them on as soon as the race ends.
“I was scared that we wouldn’t even get to have regionals. It was scary to think we trained a lot for everything and then it get shut down,” she said.
In the boys 3-A meet, Madisonville’s Jackson Watts finished 11 seconds ahead of runner-up Chase Atkins of Hopkinsville. The duo ran away from the rest of the pack, finishing nearly a full minute ahead of the third-place finisher.
Daviess County also took the boys team title, finishing 51 points ahead of runner-up Muhlenberg County.
Henderson County’s Blaine Krampe finished 37th and missed earning one of the five individual qualifying places by two spots. The Colonels placed 10th out of 11 teams.
3-A Cross Country Regional
Team scores: Daviess Co. 21, McCracken Co. 92, Graves Co. 93, Henderson Co. 119, Marshall Co. 148, Apollo 172, Madisonville 173, Muhlenberg Co. 186, Owensboro 212, Hopkinsville 259, Christian Co. 322.
Henderson County results: Hallie Mattingly, eighth, 20:15.33; MacKenzie Webb, 22nd, 22:28.88; Allina Decker, 25th, 22:48.66; Alyssa Shelton, 29th, 23:04.30; Allison Lucas, 35th, 23:22.05; Sara Krampe, 37th, 23:30.76; Destany Pike, 54th, 25:27.41.
Team scores: Daviess Co. 40, Muhlenberg Co. 91, Madisonville 97, Marshall Co. 123, Apollo 155, Hopkinsville 159, McCracken Co. 162, Graves Co. 163, Owensboro 226, Henderson Co. 265, Christian Co. 283.
Henderson Co. results: Blain Krampe, 37th, 18:39.66; William Shelton, 46th, 19:11.50; Mark Payne, 55th, 19:57.21; Caleb Decker, 61st, 21:01.01; A.J. Roy, 66th, 22:04.99; John Poole, 73rd, 25:01.67; Neico Henderson, 75th, 29:32.53.