The more things change, the more things stay the same for Becca Chaney and the Fairview girls cross country team.
On a cold Saturday morning, Chaney watched as Fairview won its sixth straight Class A, Region 7 girls championship at the Fairview Cross Country Complex. With the win, the entire Fairview team moves on to the state meet on Saturday in Lexington.
The Lady Eagles finished with five in the top 10, a feat that makes Chaney remember the Fairview team that won a state title back in 2010.
“That’s something to be proud of,” Chaney said. “That’s what we used to always do. We used to pack-run all the time. It was like seeing the old Fairview cross country team. We did really good today.”
Haley Layne led the Lady Eagles with a third-place finish and a time of 21:50.49.
Behind Layne was Maddy Rymer (fourth), Katie Richard (fifth), Lyndsey Burke (sixth) and Mahala Melvin (eighth).
The Lady Eagles have struggled with injuries. Burke has dealt with a stress fracture all season and Rymer has had a leg injury, Chaney said.
“It’s a good momentum-builder heading into state,” Chaney said. “We’ve had trouble with injuries ... time-wise they didn’t look good, but they were racing today and they looked a lot better. This was a big win for us before next week.”
Behind Fairview in the team standings was Raceland, led by freshman Haley Boggs’s ninth-place finish.
Raceland coach Raymond Kilgore said it was a great race for a team that doesn’t feature a lot of regular distance runners. A lot of the team also competes for the Raceland track and field team.
“There are only three girls on the team that are distance runners,” Kilgore said. “The rest are sprinters or compete in the field events. For them to run like they ran today, I’m so happy. How could you not be?”
Along with Boggs, Raceland’s top finishers included Isabella Joseph (11th), Grace Chapman (13th), MaKenzi Speaks (17th) and Madison Wilburn (38th).
Raceland’s cross country squad is the second team from the school to punch a ticket to a state event this week, after the Lady Rams volleyball team won the 16th Region.
Speaks and Wilburn are on both teams. They will play in the volleyball tournament Friday in Louisville, and then travel to Lexington on Saturday for cross country. If the volleyball team wins Friday, they’ll return to Louisville upon concluding the cross country race.
“They’re going to very busy,” Kilgore said. “MaKenzi Speaks has been on my cross country team for seven years now. She’s just like a child to me. These kids are just great kids, and they all work hard and do anything you ask them to do.”
Morgan County’s Kailee Perry was the top individual runner, claiming first place with a time of 20:30.68. Elliott County’s Chelsea Mayse came in second place at 21:28.17.
In the boys race, Elliott County picked up an emotional team win for coach Nancy Sloas.
After the Elliott County boys won the region two years ago, Sloas was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Sloas is now in complete remission and her team is back on top of the region.
“This is a complete comeback for us,” Sloas said. “The last couple of years have been really hard to even get them to the meets. This year, we’ve been able to practice like we should, hit the meets like we should and I feel like it’s a complete victory all around.”
Leading the way for Elliott County was eighth-grader Brandon White and junior Jonathon Sloas, who finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
Other key finishers for Elliott County were Haden Harper (13th), Isaiah Griffith (14) and Chris Leadford (16th).
And what makes this victory even sweeter for Sloas is that this team has been with her since elementary school.
“These are my babies,” Sloas laughed. “From elementary school to region champs.”
Fairview achieved a rare feat in the boys race.
Ryan Jones gave Chaney her first boy runner to reach the state meet.
Jones finished 10th overall with a time of 19:28.72 and will be one of the five individual qualifiers to reach Lexington.
Not bad for the only member of the team.
“He comes into practice and he does what I ask him to do,” Chaney said. “He pushes himself, and I push him with a clock. It’s him against the clock on some days. He works pretty hard, and I think if he would have someone else with him he would go harder.”
Owsley County’s Logan Campbell won the boys race with a time of 16:57.02. Lee County’s Cody Johnson finished second at 17:57.43.
The State Cross Country Championships will be held on Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.