Only a freshman, Holy Cross’ Keeton Thornsberry showed his heels to his challengers as he won individual honors and led the Cougars to the boys’ team title in the Class A, Region Three cross country meet Saturday at Seneca Park.
Caroline Collins, a sophomore, couldn’t match Thornsberry’s feat, because she is the only runner on Bardstown Bethlehem’s team. How does she stay in shape?
“I practice with the boys’ team,” she said. “They push me a lot. This is my first regional title, and it’s the first one for Bethlehem too.”
Thornsberry breezed home the winner in his race, going 5,000 meters in 16:03.46 seconds, beating teammate and runner-up James Zoeller – a senior – by more than 42 seconds. That 1-2 finish helped Holy Cross – coached by Richard Reynolds – rack up 34 points to 45 for second-place Green County, which had the fourth, fifth and sixth-place runners.
The first four boys’ teams and first three girls’ squads in the region will move on to the state meet on Saturday at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
“I definitely want to take home the individual title and the team title, too, at state,” the ambitious Thornsberry said.
Walden won the girls’ regional, led by eighth-grader Lindsey Domene’s third-place finish. Walden scored 40 points to 57 for second-place Presentation, which saw Julia Vogt finish second. Collins won in 20:32.55 and Vogt ran 20:39.24.
“This is the way we’ve run all year,” Walden coach Paul Hall said. “We don’t have the big star up front.”
BOYS: No one could catch Thornsberry. “There was a little bit of a pack at the start, but I was always ahead.” he said. “I never fell behind. I definitely worked the hills to see what I could do.”
Besides Thornsberry and Zoeller, Holy Cross saw freshman Caleb Bolus finish seventh and sophomore Tanner McCauley 10th in the field of 61 runners.
Zoeller had to rally to claim second place. “I wanted to keep an eye on Keeton, and if I did I thought I could finish second,” Zoeller said. “He’s been running a while. This is only my second year to run.”
Coach Reynolds said, “We expected Keeton to do very well. Zoeller came up from behind and got moving with a mile to go.”
GIRLS: Collins knew she would get competition from Vogt. “I did trail Julia in the first half of the race, but then I passed her,” Collins said. “At the end, I knew Julia was behind me and I told myself, ‘Don’t get caught.’”
Vogt was sick afterwards, but her coach, Lou Armstrong, said: “Julia ran a fabulous race. I knew she would be close to the lead. She made a strong move with a half-mile to go, but I credit Collins for finishing well.”
Walden’s No. 2 runner Taylor Boggess, had a sidestitch and was below par. She came in 22nd, but Coach Hall said his sixth girl – Alexis Kinslow – “picked us up and came in 17th. Our strength is the gap between our No. 1 and No. 5 runners. We’ll do better at state.”