Four days after losing their Southeast Kentucky Conference cross country title to Corbin, the Harlan County Lady Bears exacted some sweet revenge Saturday.
Harlan County built on a sensational performance by Phebe McHargue to claim a two-point victory over the Lady Hounds in the Corbin Invitational.
McHargue, a freshman, finished third overall with a new personal record of 22:15.98 to lead Harlan County to its third championship trophy of the season.
Sophomore Breezy Epperson (eighth, 23:24.14) and junior Emma Day (10th, 23:47.55) also scored top-10 finishes for the Lady Bears. Rounding out Harlan County’s results were Taylor Rowe (11th, 24:00.70), Allison Cornett (12th, 24:05.62), Jordan Blevins (16th, 24:33.43) and Amber Allen (22nd, 26:40.82).
Harlan County won despite the absence of Katie Graham and Briana Roque due to injuries.
“I’m very proud of our teams in an incredible effort today. For these girls to come up here and win against a really good Corbin team, without two of our top five girls, is huge,” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “They understood coming into the race they all were going to have to elevate their effort, and they did so beautifully. Every single girl had great races, and we had several PRs, or season bests. I’m just so proud of their effort today.”
Williamsburg freshman Selena Mattingly won the race with a time of 19:27.03, followed by Corbin’s Reese Helton (21:31.01).
In the boys race, James Dean set a new personal record by nearly a minute to lead the Bears to a second-place finish.
Dean, a freshman, finished second in the race with a time of 17:56.63, becoming the fourth runner in Harlan County High School history to post a sub-18:00 finish. The previous three were Steven Engle, David Lee and Hunter Middleton.
Junior Dalton Shepherd (eighth, 18:46.51) and sophomore Alex Lewis (ninth, 18:51.36) also finished in the top 10 for Harlan County. Rounding out the Bears’ results were Cody Howard (13th, 19:11.84), Josh Lee (14th, 19:18.10), Zach Hunting (19th, 19:45.54) and Zack Carmical (24th, 20:19.14).
“The boys were fantastic today as well,” Vitatoe said. “Every guy came prepared to run, and it showed in the amount of PRs ran by our boys. Corbin has a fantastic program, and our guys battled them all the way. I’m very proud of them.”
Corbin’s Tyler Hinkle was the individual champion, posting a time of 17:40.78 as he led the Redhounds to the win.
Harlan County’s varsity squad will travel to Morgan County for an all-comers meet Thursday, and the full squad will close out the regular season Saturday at home with the Area 9 Championship Meet.
“As a coach, this is where you want to be as the season is nearing an end,” Vitatoe said. “Our teams are continuing to work hard, and they’re working together and for each other, and a coach can’t ask for anything more. I’m very proud of them, and I am anxious to see how they continue to progress.”