For The Independent
What the Red Devils did reduced senior Josh Riley to four-word screams.
“Yeah!” Riley bellowed. “We did it!”
Riley and fellow senior Jacob Heyerly embraced. Heyerly even dubbed Marci Campbell “Most Valuable Parent” for calling her son Blake Campbell with the news.
“When we found out, we just hugged each other and collapsed,” Heyerly said.
Riley didn’t know it at the time, but he thought about how finishing fourth would play in Russell and Flatwoods. “It’d make us known in Russell, where football and basketball are king,” Riley said. “It would show how hard we worked.”
Russell coach Crystal Cantrell was just as happy, though significantly subdued.
“We were shooting for the stars, but fourth place feels really good,” Cantrell said. “We had two in the top 25.”
Riley was 16th with a time of 17:15.41, and Heyerly was 22nd with 17:28.68. Collins’ Jay Solinger won the boys race in 16:24.60, beating Highlands’ Ethan Shuley by a little more than nine seconds.
Joining Riley and Heyerly on the stage were: sophomore Tyler Andre (37th, 17:51.09); freshman Seth Atkins (62nd, 18:18.42); eighth-grader Jax Downs (70th, 18:22.71); junior Jordan Vallance (80th, 18:33.13); and junior Chris Cooper (87th, 18:39.82).
After a few minutes of barely-controlled happiness, Heyerly showed a smidgen of weepiness as tears formed in his eyes.
“I’m proud of this team,” he said. “I love’em all.”
Top 20 squads
Rowan County, Ashland and Boyd County finished 12th, 13th and 20th, respectively, in the boys team standings. Rowan County senior Shelley DeHarte was the best local finisher, taking seventh in 16:55.72, his highest placing ever.
“Last year I got 44th,” DeHarte said. “I went out harder the first mile than usual. I tried to focus on people and just tried to stay toward the front as long as I could.”
Other Rowan County runners joining DeHarte were senior Bevan Samuals (45th, 18:07.88), freshman Nick Anderson (85th, 18:36.28); senior John Erni (158th, 19:39.59); sophomore Brandon Marcum (159th, 19:40.05); sophomore Andrew Mabry (163rd, 19:44.60); and junior Travis Curtis (205th, 22:39.21).
Sophomore Tristan Kennard (40th place, 17:57.34) led Ashland.
“I’m really happy about it,” he said. “I was a full minute faster than last year. This was my second fastest race this year.”
Other Tomcats finishing were: sophomore Hunter Gullett (59th, 18:16.71); freshman Dylan Boyle (93rd, 18:45.95); junior Austin Craft (120th, 19:01.91); junior Peter Jenkins (151st, 19:33.68); sophomore Jeremy Sweeney (182nd, 20:47.04); and junior Jonathon Dingess (214th, 24:27.53).
Seventh-grader Elijah Miller (54th, 18:14.56) paced Boyd County. The rest of the Lions were: senior Conner Goble (121st, 19:02.16); sophomore Bradley Bush (144th, 19:24.71); junior Aaron Parent (150th, 19:33.43); senior Kaleb Mullins (156th,19:38.26); junior Seth Holbrook (192nd, 21:19.40); and junior Isaac Houston (199th, 21:41.37).
East Carter senior Ben Napier was 83rd in 18:35.31.
Leet, Lady Lions
Fleming County freshman Olivia Leet, last week’s Region 6 individual winner, was the earliest local runner across the finish line. She took ninth place in 20:20.48, nearly 16 seconds faster than last week, but she thought she could have gone faster.
“The wind held me back sometimes,” Leet said.
Region champion Boyd County's 14th place in the team standings (358 points) was best among local teams. Fleming County was 16th with 419, East Carter was 18th with 439, and Johnson Central was 25th with 683.
Boyd County sent both the boys and girls to state in the same season for the first time since 1997. Saturday, they were a stealth group — they brought no tent and dropped their gear bags next to the Grant County shelter. Lady Lions junior Darian Steele didn't care.
“It’s awesome to bring both (teams),” Steele said. “Everybody at school was congratulating us, more than usual.”
Sophomore Courtney Gibson led Boyd County, finishing 19th in 20:43.90. Next were: Steele in 23rd (20:57.75), junior Cydney Thompson (46th, 21:57.76); senior Saralyn Miller (141st, 24:13.85); junior Christin Vasquez (191st, 25:55.01) senior Alex Meade (207th, 27:52.81); and sophomore Paige Morella (211th, 28:02.56).
East Carter senior Macy Dyer completed her high school career in 37th place (21:32.34). Freshman Olivia Burchett led Johnson Central in 88th place (22:45.21).
Highlands easily won the team title, scoring a 76. Second-place Christian Academy-Louisville finished with a 152.