• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

WCHS cross country teams finish 36th at class 3A state championship

The Woodford County High School cross country teams competed in the class 3A State Championship Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Kentucky Horse Park. An estimated 3,000 spectators packed the muddy course ringing cowbells and cheering for their favorite runner. The Lady Jackets earned a spot at state with a third place finish at the regional championship and the boys' placed sixth to earn their spot in the race.

The Lady Jackets finished 36th in the championship 5K with an average time of 23:54. Katie Gatewood was the top performer for the Lady Jackets. She finished 158th (22.42.91). "The course was really muddy today," said Gatewood. "There were a bunch of puddles on the course that we ran through. Last year it was dry, but cold. So this year felt much different. I enjoyed having my team with me here this year. It's nice to have each other for support and someone to lean on. Morgan (Reynolds) is one of my best friends, so it was great having her here with me." Morgan Reynolds finished 175th (23:00.61), Abbey Bleuel was 216th (23:38.78), Katherine Crain was 249th (24:32.50), Esther Bradshaw was 269th (25.37.13), McKenna Hewett was 274th (25:53.59) and Caroline Murray was 281st (26:47.31).

"It was stressful to do this for the first time," said Reynolds. "It's really tight at the start, and there is mud flying everywhere. You have to get out really fast at the beginning to avoid being crowded. The mud was challenging to run in and honestly; I just don't like mud. We weren't sure if we would get to state, but we had a couple of middle schoolers who stepped up and got us to state. It was a great experience to be able to do this as a freshman, and I hope I can continue to come back for this race every year."

The WCHS boys' team finished 36th in the championship 5K with an average time of 19:07. Clay Thomas was the top finisher for the Jackets. He finished in 141st place (18:14.04). "It was a wet course, and it was packed," said Thomas. "Fighting for a position was tough. I was shoved and kicked a few times out there. It was muddier than I expected. I am happy with my race today. I passed people when I could and took any advantage that I could. I learned that I need to push harder and kick when I can to get ahead of the pack." Kyle Holt finished 171st (18:29.83), Abran Santos was 233rd (19:09.39), Colin Charles was 264th (19:38.16), Jalen Newton was 288th (20:06.32), Scott Watson was 292nd (20:19.75) and Jackson Gordon was 293rd (20:27.43).

"It was a difficult course today," said Santos. "Going up those hills takes most of your energy, and then you have to recover from it. "It was tight at the beginning, and it felt like we were all stuck together without room to improve your position. I am still grateful for the chance to compete in a race like this."

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