Settles, Slone, Johnson advance to state XC meet; clinch top 3 individual berths

Published 12:52 pm Friday, November 2, 2018

MONTICELLO — Saturday was a bittersweet day for Lincoln County cross country coach Jose Pope.

While excited about Lady Patriot runners McKenzie Settles, Alexis Slone and Constance Johnson all qualifying for the 2018 KHSAA State Cross Country Championships at Saturday’s Class 2A, Region 5 meet, the Lincoln coach lamented that the rest of the Lincoln girls team did not move on with them.

“We missed by 15 points,” Pope said dejectedly after the results were posted Saturday at Cave Lake Park. “It really hurts, especially with the part of Katherine (Rowe) being the only senior and not getting to run at state. I felt like we could finish third or fourth. The top five teams today all move on to state. We were sixth.”

Corbin clinched that fifth spot with a team score of 93 points. Lincoln’s score was 108. Points are awarded to the top five runners on a team based on their finish.

“This is probably one of the toughest regions we can be in,” said Pope. “There’s all kinds of talent in this region.”

Pope did not dwell on his disappointment, though, shaking it off to congratulate Settles, Slone and Johnson for earning the right to lace up their running shoes for one last meet – the state meet this Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park. Along with the top five teams advancing, the top five individuals not on those top five teams also earn a berth in the state meet and Lincoln claimed three of those individual spots.

“I’m very proud of them. They’ve worked their tails off all season,” Pope said. “There is a lot of talent in this region, as I said before, so for them to get three of the five individual spots is great.”

The conditions were not ideal for a high school cross country meet Saturday, with constant winds chilling the air at the rain-saturated Cave Lake Park Course, but Settles, Slone and Johnson did not let the conditions deter them from being among the region’s top performers.

Settles, a sophomore, claimed Lincoln’s highest finish, covering the 3.1-mile distance in 22:52.94 to place her 13th overall and making her the top individual performer not on a state-advancing team. Slone, an eighth-grader and the lone state qualifier from Lincoln’s 2017 team, finished two places back of Settles, crossing the finish line in 23:04.14 to place her 15th overall. Johnson, a freshman, rounds out Lincoln’s trio of state-qualifiers, placing 18th overall. Johnson posted a time of 23:32.93.

“Another week of practice,” Pope said to Settles as she came over to get a picture with her coach. “No break, yet. The three of you have got one more race to get ready for.”

Mercer County claimed the regional team title in a tiebreaker. Both Mercer and runner-up Boyle County finished with 74 points, but Mercer got the edge on Boyle on the team’s sixth-runner’s time. Rockcastle County placed third with 78 points, Casey County was fourth with 87 points and Corbin was fifth with 93 points.

The other two state-qualifying girls were McCreary Central sophomores. Destiny King advanced with a time of 23:34.95 and Ali Waters advanced on a time of 23:47.68.

For the Lincoln boys, the cross country season reached its end Saturday.

The Patriots placed 11th out of 11 teams, with their high individual finish 37th place. The cutoff for individual qualifiers in the race ended up being the 20th spot. With only the top six boys teams advancing on to state and the top five individual runners not on those teams moving on, Lincoln finished way off the mark.

“The boys trained hard all season long. They just couldn’t get over the hump,” Pope said. “I tried to light a little fire under their butts by bringing up the seventh-graders, trying to get them motivated a little bit more. It worked to the advantage for some of them but not for all of them.”

Three Patriots finished in the top 50, led by sophomores Bradley Adams and Jordan Greer. Adams finished 37th overall followed by Greer in the 38th spot. Adams’ time in the 3.1-mile race was 20:31.23 and Greer was timed at 20:34.29. Gabe Singleton, a junior, also finished in the top 50, covering the distance in 21:03.02 to place 47th.

Boyle County finished as the boys regional champion with 45 points. Corbin came in as runner-up with 64 points, Rockcastle County was third with 103 points, host Wayne County was fourth with 115 points, East Jessamine was fifth with 151 points and Knox Central rounded out the state-qualifying teams in sixth place with 161 points.

The state-qualifying individual runners in the boys division were: Caden Miracle, 8th grade, Bell County, 17:09.33; Federico Diaz, senior, Casey County, 17:59.93; Aiden Tucker, junior, McCreary Central, 18:31.29; Cody Curtsinger, junior, Mercer County, 18:42.24; and James Ward, junior, Garrard County, 19:17.92.

Lincoln loses just one athlete to graduation, with Rowe the lone senior. Youth is on Lincoln’s side with just two senior runners on both the Lady Patriot and Patriot teams and the rest of the athletes running down to the elementary level.

“Youth. That’s going to be our advantage come next season,” Pope said. “Hopefully they will get stronger and stronger. And, hopefully, we’ll get Lucy (Singleton) back.” Singleton, one of the Lady Pats’ top runners, sat out most of the season with a leg injury.

Settles, Slone and Johnson will toe the starting line with 306 other Class 2A runners Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park. The first call for the girls Class 2A championship is noon, with the final call (teams in the box for clerk inspection) at 12:10 p.m. The gun will sound on the Class 2A girls race at 12:15 p.m.

KHSAA Region 5 Class 2A Championships
Cave Lake Park, Monticello

Girls Varsity
(3.1 miles – 59 runners)

Teams: 1) Mercer Co. (MC) 74; 2) Boyle Co. (BC) 74; 3) Rockcastle Co. (RC) 78; 4) Casey Co. (CC) 87; 5) Corbin (C) 93; 6) Lincoln Co. (LC) 108; 7) McCreary Central 151; 8) Knox Central 189.

Individuals (Top 10 and Lincoln)
Haley Blevins (MC) 20:44.79; 2) Alyssa Sharp (CC) 20:57.38; 3) Hannah Morton (C) 21:01.58; 4) Abby Vaughn (CC) 21:02.44; 5) Jenna Vaughn (CC) 21:10.85; 6) Naia Hutchins (BC) 21:28.68; 7) Victoria Dotson (RC) 21:38.22; 8) Emma Jackson (BC) 21:47.8; 9) Clayra Darnell (MC) 21:59.48; 10) Annabelle Tarter (BC) 22:19.70; 13) McKenzie Settles (LC) 22:52.94; 15) Alexis Slone (LC) 23:04.14; 18) Constance Johnson (LC) 23:32.93; 25) Ava Morgan (LC) 24:10.90; 37) Mayci Godbey (LC) 25:30.33; 51) Jasmine Steele (LC) 28:28.08; 53) Desirae Ellison (LC) 29:59.34.

Boys Varsity
(3.1 miles – 81 runners)

Teams: 1) Boyle Co. (BC) 45; 2) Corbin (C) 64; 3) Rockcastle Co. (RC) 103; 4) Wayne Co. (WC) 115; 5) East Jessamine (EJ) 151; 6) Knox Central 161; 7) McCreary Central 181; 8) Bell Co. (B) 189; 9) Russell Co. 200; 10) Mercer Co. 215; 11) Lincoln Co. (LC) 238.

Individuals (Top 10 and Lincoln)
Sean Simons (C) 16:56.33; 2) Caden Miracle (B) 17:09.33; 3) Ezekiel Harless (BC) 17:16.57; 4) Dylan Bullen (RC) 17:25.31; 5) Will Lafavers (BC) 17:36.33; 6) Seth Stomberger (BC) 17:37.71; 7) Preston Sagastegui (EJ) 17:41.55; 8) Jackson Cox (BC) 7:44.22; 9) Austin Terrell (C) 17:49.91; 10) Orie Roysdon (WC) 17:50.17; 37) Bradley Adams (LC) 20:31.23; 38) Jordan Greer (LC) 20:34.29; 47) Gabe Singleton (LC) 21:03.02; 58) Caden Bastin (LC) 21:55.47; 68) Elijah Johnson (LC) 22:54.37; 77) John Sparkman (LC) 23:55.09; 78) Malcolm Wright (LC) 24:05.40.