CANNONSBURG Kerri Thornburg was humbled — in a good way.

Ashland’s girls track coach is The Daily Independent’s 2021 All-Area Coach of the Year.

“I was excited, but a little shocked, a little surprised that I’m the Coach of the Year,” Thornburg said. “It’s always the kids that are the main thing ... being Coach of the Year is a little humbling.”

If there were statues for coaching awards, Thornburg might have to build a trophy case. She was the top All-Area girls coach three years ago and the boys selection in 2019.

“This was very special because we had so many people on the podium at State,” Thornburg said of the ‘21 award. “The kids really stuck with it after losing a year with COVID.”

The Kittens and Tomcats accomplished what they did with a handicap.

“We could never run on a full track,” Thornburg said. “They’ve been working on our track all year. Even our relay girls, we could never go one full time around. … Other coaches were gracious to let us use their track and work at the same time as some of their throwers.”

Seven Kittens made the All-Area squad — Josie Bevins, Macie Bevins, Aubree Hay, Xy Holmes, Emma Latherow, Lillian Sebastian and Emily Trogdon.

Latherow won the state Class 2A discus title. Her winning toss of 110 feet, 11 inches was nearly seven feet farther than second-place Sarah Keown of Hopkins County Central’s 104-0, and she had two other tosses well over 100 feet.

“I don’t think it’s set in yet,” Latherow said at the All-Area photo shoot at Boyd County.

Latherow plans to attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She’s done with competitive track and field, but she did watch the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon — including the women’s shot put, when Jessica Ramsey uncorked a toss of 20.12 meters (a shade over 66 feet).

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a great throw,’” Latherow said.

‘She’s amazing’

The final state Class A team score shows Morgan County in seventh place with 33 points. It would’ve been as accurate to list Krista Perry.

Perry, the All-Area Athlete of the Year, is headed to Marshall University this fall. She finished her high school career in as good a way as you’d like: state Class A titles in the 100 hurdles in a state-record 14.52 and the 300 hurdles (46.22), and second place to Somerset’s Kendall Burgess in the long jump (17-3¾) and fourth in the 100 dash in a personal-best 12.66.

“She’s amazing,” Thornburg said. “She’s an amazing athlete and just such a hard worker. She’s just exciting to watch.”

As much as Perry enjoyed the titles, it was more important for her to represent West Liberty, Ezel, Blaze, Elkfork and the rest of Morgan County.

“I’m just blessed for all the opportunities I’ve had,” Perry said June 10. “I just hope I inspire younger kids to come out there and know that anything’s possible.”

Sevenfold success

Boyd County also placed seven on the team — Abby Baldridge, Taylor Crawford, Sami Govey, Ava Kazee, Sophia Newsome, Emma Steel and Lexi Sworski.

Newsome finished second in the state 2A 800 (2:19.02), and she joined Sworski, Govey and Kazee to finish fourth in the 4x800 relay.

Rowan County placed five on the team — Besant, Autumn Egleston, Kaitlyn McKenzie, Kaycee Moore and Rachel Whelan. Raceland (Makayla Clark, Sophie Maynard), Bath County (Emma Hall and Amelia Oldfield) and Fleming County (Erin and Kalynn Pease) each had two.

Sebastian mostly ruled the sprints. At the Class 2A, Region 6 meet on June 4, she won the 100 by less than a second over Mason County’s Karis Applegate, took the 200 by less than a second over All-Area selection Shaelyn Steele of Russell and finished second to Rowan County’s Ella Besant in the 400.

At State, Sebastian finished sixth in the 100-meter dash (12.68 seconds) and second in the 200 (25.68).

East Carter’s Riley Brown rounds out the team.

The All-Area Athletes and Coach of the Year were chosen by the newspaper’s sports department. The team is composed by top finishers from northeastern Kentucky in each event, as well as athletes who placed near the top in multiple events, as reported to MileSplit.

2021 The Daily Independent All-Area Girls Track and Field

Abby Baldridge (Boyd County)

Ella Besant (Rowan County)

Josie Bevins (Ashland)

Macie Bevins (Ashland)

Riley Brown (East Carter)

Makayla Clark (Raceland)

Taylor Crawford (Boyd County)

Autumn Egleston (Rowan County)

Sami Govey (Boyd County)

Emma Hall (Bath County)

Aubree Hay (Ashland)

Xy Holmes (Ashland)

Ava Kazee (Boyd County)

Emma Latherow (Ashland)

Sophie Maynard (Raceland)

Kaitlyn McKenzie (Rowan County)

Kaycee Moore (Rowan County)

Sophie Newsome (Boyd County)

Amelia Oldfield (Bath County)

Erin Pease (Fleming County)

Kalynn Pease (Fleming County)

Krista Perry (Morgan County)

Madison Raines (Rowan County)

Lillian Sebastian (Ashland)

Emma Steel (Boyd County)

Shaelyn Steele (Russell)

Lexi Sworski (Boyd County)

Emily Trogdon (Ashland)

Rachel Whelan (Rowan County)

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Krista Perry (Morgan County)

COACH OF THE YEAR

Kerri Thornburg (Ashland)

Honorable mention: Riley Brogdon (Ashland), Josalynn Bush (East Carter), Heaven Carver (Morgan County), Sadie Chaffins (Greenup County), Ariah Egleston (Rowan County), Audrey Evans (Rowan County), Sophie Hale (Raceland), Emily Harrington (Boyd County), Hope Harris (Ashland), Kristen King (West Carter), Janesey Lewis (Morgan County), Elizabeth Middleton (West Carter), Taylor Parks (Menifee County), Bethany Tackett (Paintsville)

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