On the surface, the story of the Class A Region 7 cross country championships didn’t change much in a year’s time.
Fairview’s girls dominated, with Lady Eagles again finishing first through fifth. Lyndsey Burke, a freshman, received top honors for the third season in a row. It makred the Lady Eagles’ fifth team title in as many years.
“We’re more than a team, we’re like sisters,” Burke said. “It’s great that we can pack together and see what we’ve been doing in practice all season show up in meets.”
Bath County’s boys won their second consecutive team title behind a second straight individual win by senior Evan Staviski.
“Last year was the first year Bath County ever won region,” Staviski said. “Now I can say I was on a team that repeated it two years in a row.”
However, there were a few surprises interwoven among the staples on Saturday at Fairview Cross County Course.
Fairview eighth-grader Brandi Loudenback’s astonishing performance wowed her coach and teammates. Her time of 22:09 was good enough for fifth place. She had never finished under 24 minutes.
“Oh my gosh, Brandi, she just came out of nowhere,” said Fairview coach Becca Chaney. “I mean, we knew she could do it, but she just dug in today and stuck with (teammate) Maddy (Rymer).”
Raceland eighth-grader Haley Boggs recorded a personal-best (22:51), placing seventh overall. She helped throw a wrench in Fairview’s plans of staying a pack throughout the entire race. The Lady Eagles had seven runners, and together they held the top seven spots for more than a third of the meet.
Fairview still managed to assume seven of the top 11 positions — Burke (1st, 20:48), Brooklyn Bowen (2nd, 20:54), Haley Layne (3rd, 21:27), Maddy Rymer (4th, 22:08), Loudenback, Katie Richard (8th, 22:56) and Morgan McIntyre (11th, 23:45) rounded out the Lady Eagle effort.
Chaney hopes momentum can carry forward to the State Meet next Saturday in Lexington.
“I think we’ve got a good chance,” she said.
Fairview won it all in 2010 before earning a runner-up finish in 2011.
Chaney said the champion could be one of possibly four schools this year — St. Henry, Bishop Brossart, Holy Cross (Louisville) and Fairview are currently ranked Nos. 1-4.
Staviski, who is drawing serious college looks, blew away Saturday’s competition in 16:42. Set to visit Murray State in December, he bested his time from last season’s regional title by 25 seconds.
“I’m wanting to get 16:20, that would’ve been a school record,” Staviski said. “I guess I’ll have to try at State.”
Lee County finished in second place in both races. Elliott County took third in boys, as Bath County was third in girls. Cordia’s boys and Owsley County’s girls were fourth. The top four teams qualify for the State Meet.
Shortly after the race was over, each Lady Eagle in a circle of Fairview runners broke into tears. They paired off, hugging one another. They were crying because the careers of two seniors, Bowen and Paige McKnight, are nearing an end.
They’ll try to provide the perfect punctuation on Saturday.
“I want that feeling again,” Burke said.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.