Alexis Slone advances to state cross country meet

Published 3:06 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

By Nancy Leedy

MONTICELLO — Saturday was a day of firsts for Lincoln County’s Alexis Slone.

It was the seventh-grade cross country athlete’s first time running on the Cave Lake Park course, her first high school regional competition and, ultimately, her first state-qualifying finish at the high school level to advance her to her first KHSAA State Cross Country Championships.

With constant winds chilling the air at the rain-saturated Cave Lake Park course, conditions were certainly not favorable for a high school cross country meet much less an inexperienced runner. However, that didn’t stop Slone from making her presence known at Saturday’s Class 2A, Region 5 Championships.

The top four teams at the meet qualified to represent Region 5 at the state meet, along with the top five individuals not on those top four teams. And it was as one of those individual runners that Slone claimed a berth in the state meet.

“For Alexis to qualify for state is not a surprise!!,” Lincoln County varsity assistant and middle school coach Jose Pope stated. “The way she trains is above expectations.  She doesn’t complain about what practices will consist of.  Alexis not only does our team practices, but she also trains at home…now look, she’s competing at high school state as a seventh-grader.”

Rockcastle County sophomore Victoria Dotson claimed the first individual berth by winning the girls varsity 5K. She won in a time of 19:34.44. Dotson’s teammate, Jasmine Ashcraft, a freshman, finished third overall in 21:21.81 to also qualify and Slone posted the third best time among the individual qualifiers, running 21st out of 54 runners in 23:02.12.

Despite being one of only four seventh-graders competing at regionals, Slone admitted shyly that she, like her middle school coach, wasn’t shocked with her performance, 

“Well, it was a thought (making state) in my mind because I wanted to make my coach and my family really happy,” she said. “It was actually pretty cold that day and it was really muddy and wet at the end, but I just gave it my all and ran my best and I did really good.”

While hoping to qualify for state, the reality of actually making the cut surprised Slone a bit.

“When coach told me, I was like, ‘Wow!’” said Slone, whose previous best time is in the 22-minute range. “I kind of think about what my place is in a race but also my time. I want to try to beat my time and to beat other people. And I did beat a couple people.”

The fourth and fifth individual-qualifying spots went to Nicole Hesse of Wayne County, who had a time of 23:05.08 and Jazmine Brannon of Bell County, who finished in 23:26.32.

As one of only a handful of middle school competitors on course for the Region 5 run, was Slone intimidated by running against high schoolers?

“I don’t really think about age because I know I’ll do my best,” said Slone. “I’ve done it before. It really doesn’t bother me. I want to challenge against older people that are not my age so I can show people  that I can do really as good as high schoolers do.”

Slone said that her unfamiliarity with the Cave Lake Park course had little effect on her running performance and that the course was “really easy” with one exception.

“Going up the first hill at the beginning was really hard,” she said. “My arms were like really cold and I couldn’t feel them, but I just kept going up that hill. But it was like only that hill. After the hill, we had to go through the forest and then come down around the lake and then loop around to the finish.”

And her favorite part of the course?

“The forest. I loved the forest so much because I like running in shade,” she said. “Even though it was cold, I just liked running in the forest. It was really easy to me after that hill.”

Slone is not certain, but she feels like she may be running another unfamiliar course when she laces her running shoes for the state championships Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“I can’t remember if I’ve run there before,” Slone said. “I guess when I get there I’ll see if it looks like a place I’ve been.”

New course or not, Slone knows the nerves will get the best of her at the start.

“I’m kind of nervous, but I get nervous every time we have a meet,” she said. “I just try to push myself and pace myself thinking, “I want to beat these girls and do my best.’”

But it’s more than about just doing her best. Slone is hoping for a little state hardware.

“I kind of want to get a medal at state because the top 50 get to medal,” she said. “I just want to like show everybody that I’m a really good runner.”

With the effort Slone has put into her cross country career to date, she leaves little room for her coaches to question her dedication.

“She treats everyday like it’s a job and at her age its hard for some kids to do that,” Pope said. “Alexis’ future is very bright and with her work ethics, she’ll continue to get better and better. I’m almost positive she’ll be competing at a state level every year from this point forward! It’s been an absolute joy coaching Alexis and watching her excel.”

Missy Slone, who also helps coach the middle school runners, echoed Pope’s sentiments when it comes to Alexis’ focus. 

“Alexis is a very focused and dedicated runner. Her times have been consistent all season and I am not surprised at all that she qualified for the high school state meet this year,” she said. “I believe her goal every meet has been to do her best and have that be a little better than the last time. To say that I am proud of her and to have been a part of her season is an understatement.”

Sam Singleton, an eighth-grade runner for Lincoln, came oh-so-close to qualifying for state in the boys’ regional competition.

The top six boys teams and the top five individuals not on those teams qualify for state and Singleton would turn in the seventh-best individual time, placing 33rd overall out of 80 runners in a time of 19:39.64.

Bell County senior Mitchell Miracle won the boys 5K in 17:04.80 to receive an individual berth. Rockcastle’s Dylan Bullen advanced in a time of 18:04.90, Logan Bullock, also of Rockcastle, qualified in 18:17.13, Knox Central’s Cory Hibbard advanced in 18:59.32 and Bell’s Caden Miracle moved on to state in 19:16.73. 

Boyle County swept both the girls and boys regional titles.

The girls teams advancing to state were Boyle, Corbin, Casey County and Mercer County. The boys teams going to state were Boyle, Corbin, East Jessamine, McCreary Central, Wayne County and Casey County. 

Lincoln’s times in the Class 2A, Region 5 championships were:

Girls
21) Alexis Slone 23:02.12; 29) Jasmine Steele 25:05.26; 30) Constance Johnson 25:18.36; 31) Mayci Godbey 25:30.01; 43) Katherine Rowe 27:34.49; 45) Chloe Tillett 27:47.03; 52) Chrissy Mullins 32:51.95.

Boys
33) Sam Singleton 19:39.64; 43) Gabe Singleton 20:13.54; 59) Bradley Adams 21:43.45; 68) John Sparkman 22:47.12; 77) Davis Wardrip 27:06.51; 78) Dalton Patterson 27:19.15.