Matthew Thomas of St. Xavier held off Manual’s Yared Nuguse, and Male’s Kaitlyn Lacy outdueled Manual’s Alena Sapienza-Wright to win the boys and girls Class 3A regionals on Saturday at Seneca Park.
St. Xavier won the boys team title with Meade County, Manual and Butler also qualifying for state from Region Three. Male won the girls title, as Manual, Meade County and Bullitt Central all advanced.
Thomas posted the lowest time of any runner at 15:34.52 seconds. Nuguse stayed within eyesight of Thomas all race long and closed fast to finish in 15:35.01.
“I felt comfortable,” said Thomas. “I felt him on my back the entire time, really. I knew that he has a really high closing speed, so I was definitely aware of that the whole race. He was pretty much stalking me all race long, so I wanted to extend the lead as much as I could in the middle part of the race to get as much of a cushion as I could.”
“During the back mile he started gaining distance,” said Nuguse. “I tried to get him at the end, but I didn’t sprint soon enough.”
St. X runners then placed third, fifth, sixth and seventh to win with 22 points. Meade County was second with 55 and Manual third with 72.
“We had all of our top five guys under 16 minutes, so we were pretty happy with that,” said St. Xavier head coach Chuck Medley. “Meade County (four runners in the top 12) gave us a good race today. They’re a good team. But our guys got out at a decent pace, they packed together as we teach them to do, and they had a good finish. Can’t ask for more than that.”
On the girls side, the year long battle between Lacy and Sapienza-Wright tilted Lacy’s way this time.
“I actually felt really great running today,” said Lacy, who finished in 18:09.73. “It felt like an everyday run for the first two miles, and then after that second mile I started going a little bit.”
Sapienza-Wright was with her until that point. For whatever reason she didn’t have the kick to stay with her rival on this particular day.
“I’m happy for Kaitlyn, she works really hard,” said Sapienza-Wright. “My time was a little disappointing, but everyone has a bad race once in a while, and it was just a bad day for me.”
Male head coach Damon Smith was all smiles with his team’s, and Lacy’s, victory.
“It was pretty exciting,” he said. “Pretty shocking, too. I didn’t think we were going to run that well but we ran really well today. Those two are both tremendous runners. They’ve been battling all season long. At the end of the day, Lacie had a better day. What more can you say?”