The Harlan County cross country team ended a nine-day layoff in fine fashion Thursday, swiping championship trophies on both sides in the inaugural Sorghum Run at Morgan County High School.
“I’m very proud of this team tonight, after such great performances in a very big meet,” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “Both teams were fantastic with their performances in a loaded field of teams.”
Sophomores James Dean and Alex Lewis both claimed top-10 finishes in the boys race as the Black Bears cruised to a convincing victory over Rowan County. Powell County came in third. Dalton Shepherd was Harlan County’s third finisher, also posting a sub-20:00 time. Rounding out the Bears’ results were Cody Howard, Zach Hunting, Josh Lee, Seth Sanders and Zack Carmical. Official results and times have not been released.
The win was the boys’ second road victory of the season after going winless away from home the past two years.
Freshmen Phebe McHargue and Katie Graham both placed in the top 10 as the girls held on for a seven-point victory over Letcher County Central despite the absence of Allison Cornett, who was battling an illness. Jordan Blevins was the Lady Bears’ No. 3 finisher, followed by Breezy Epperson, Briana Roque, Taylor Rowe and Emma Day. Morgan County posted the top three finishers, led by freshman Kailee Perry, to claim third place in the race.
“The girls ran great despite being without Allison tonight,” Vitatoe said. “I can’t say enough about how they all stepped up in her absence. It’s hard to single one out because every girl performed beautifully; every one of them did their job.”
The Bears followed Thursday’s big win with a trip to Cave Lake for the Wayne County Invitational on Saturday. With Cornett still unable to run, the girls placed 10th in a huge field, led again by McHargue (44th, 24:22.46), Graham (50th, 24:42.67) and Blevins (51st, 24:45.11). Rounding out the Lady Bears’ results were Epperson (62nd, 25:14.70), Roque (65th, 25:21.13), Rowe (66th, 25:31.92), Day (69th, 25:43.02), Amber Allen (83rd, 27:32.40), Katelyn Hensley (88th, 27:53.37), Grace Dean (91st, 23:20.88), Madison Blanton (103rd, 29:58.19), Iris Sanchez (105th), 30:12.68), Janice Dean (111th, 31:53.65) and Laura Creech (119th, 35:11.58).
Madison Central cruised to the victory, led by senior Julia Manning. West Jessamine and Rockcastle County finished second and third, respectively.
With Lewis missing due to injury, Harlan County’s boys finished 12th in an even larger field. Dean paced the Black Bears, finishing 32nd and setting a new personal record with a time of 18:44.19. Howard (19:59.29) finished 64th, followed by Shepherd (69th, 20:08.10). Rounding out the Bears’ effort were Sanders (85th, 20:53.49), Hunting (86th, 20:53.84), Carmical (92nd, 21:01.36), Lee (103rd, 21:35.18), A.J. Hall (105th, 21:41.97), Austin Adams (130th, 23:01.59), Nick Blair (139th, 23:37.05), Andrew Crawford (155th, 25:52.88) and Jose Roque (26:40.52).
Senior and defending state champion Brennan Fields led Madison Central to a 56-point victory over Pulaski County. North Laurel and Wayne County tied for third.
Junior Sanchez (6:55.36) and Justin Moyers (7:02.58) placed 11th and 13th, respectively, to lead Harlan County in the boys elementary race. Cooper McHargue (7:15.74) finished 17th. Haylee Couch placed 33rd in the girls race with a time of 9:27.12.
Ulyses Roque finished ninth with a time of 12:48.77 to pace the Bears in the boys middle school race. Shane Kelly finished 25th with a time of 14:15.73.
The Black Bears return to action Saturday at home in the Chuck Vitatoe Invitational.