Johnson, Slone lead Lincoln at state cross country championships

LEXINGTON — In many high school sports, a new season starts each year as district, region and state playoffs roll around. Teams or individuals winning can correct minor mistakes from contest to contest or match to match as they have multiple opportunities to improve their performances before the finals.

That’s not the case in cross country.

In cross country, you have just one shot at regionals to qualify for state and then it comes down to one final mad dash with hundreds of other runners along a 3.1-mile course.

The Lincoln County High School girls cross country team took its season as far as it could go this year, with the Lady Patriots qualifying for state at the Class 2A, Region 5 Championships then lacing up their running shoes one last time in the Class 2A KHSAA State Cross Country Championships.

For the first time since 2009, the Lady Patriot team had all seven members toeing the starting line at the state meet with senior Jasmine Steele, juniors Shayley Reed and McKenzie Settles, sophomores Mayci Godbey, Constance Johnson and Ava Morgan and freshman Alexis Slone on the course at the Kentucky Horse Park Saturday morning.

Johnson, who was Lincoln’s first runner to finish at last year’s state meet and this year’s regional run, was at the front for the Lady Patriots once again Saturday. The LCHS runner, who had a time of 23:00.96 at region, cut her time to 22:32.99 at state to place her 90th overall out of 237 athletes.

Johnson was in good company at the finish, with her teammate, Slone, following her across in the 91st position. Slone, who was running in her third state meet, was timed at 22:33.26, over a minute and 18 seconds faster than her regional time.

While Lincoln did not field the fastest team on course at state, the Lady Patriots were not bringing up the rear of the field. The combined finishes of Lincoln’s top five runners gave the Lady Patriots 529 points to place them 23rd out of 30 teams.

Settles, who ran in last year’s state meet, and Reed both finished with 23-minute times, with Settles crossing in 23:11.13 to place her 121st overall and Reed finishing in 23:53.92 to take the 142nd spot. Both runners bested their regional times.

Steele finished out her high school cross country career at the state meet, covering the distance in 24:30.03 to place 169th. Morgan posted a time of 25:15.63 to finish 184th while Godbey crossed in 25:31.00 to place 193rd.

The Top 10 in Saturday’s Class 2A girls finals was dominated by runners posting sub-29 times.

Addi Dewey, a sophomore at Christian Academy of Louisville who was last year’s runner-up, claimed the championship win Saturday with a time of 19:13.08. Rebekah Howard, a senior from Ashland Paul Blazer who ran fifth in the 2018 meet, claimed this year’s runner-up spot with a time of 19:31.92. Maddie Strong, an eighth-grader for Scott, placed third in 19:38.53, Makena Gillion, a Franklin County senior, was fourth in 19:39.63 and Kaylee Wilson, a Christian Academy of Louisville junior, took fifth in 19:43.10. Rounding out the Top 10 were: Bethany Simpson, Bourbon County, sixth, 19:43.77; Juliana Ellington, Scott, seventh, 19:47.37; Emma Kendall, Collins, eighth, 19:57.74; MaKayla Felty, Bourbon County, ninth, 20:06.98; and Maggie Schroeder, Highlands, tenth, 20:10.96.

Scott repeated as girls Class 2A champion out of 30 teams. Christian Academy of Louisville placed second overall, Highlands came in third, Mason County was fourth and Bourbon County was fifth.