LOUISVILLE – The first major cross-country event of the season showed that Bullitt East will be a power in both boys’ and girls’ action even with the move to Class AAA this season.
Competing in the Tiger Run on Saturday at the Louisville Champions Park (the site of the old River Road Golf Course), the Lady Chargers finished tied for second while the boys’ team was ninth.
With pretty much the entire team back from the squad that finished fourth last year in the Class AA State Meet, the Lady Chargers had four runners finish amongst the top 22 runners. Bullitt East finished with 139 points, the same as former Class AA rival South Oldham (another team that moved up to Class AAA, but they will be in a different region from Bullitt East now). Sacred Heart won the meet with 82 points.
Leading the Lady Chargers back to the finish line was sophomore Sierra Poppell in fifth place in the 5K race. Poppell had a time of 19:45.87, not far off the pace of winning Michaela Reinhart of Lexington Catholic in 19:16.18.
Bullitt East also had freshman Caroline Collins finish 17th while senior Abby Shelton was 21st, just ahead of teammate Abby Reburn, a freshman. Collins had a time of 20:58.64 while Shelton was at 21:01.46, two seconds ahead of Reburn.
The fifth finisher for Bullitt East in the team scoring race was freshman Brianna Poole who finished 100th in 23:47.82. The other two Bullitt East runners on Saturday were seniors Jessica Prell and Rebecca Tullsang.
On the girls’ side, the Tiger Run had 220 competitors with 25 teams posting final scores.
The boys’ race on Saturday had an even bigger field as 30 schools posted team scores while 287 runners crossed the finish line.
Coach Lenny Raley’s boys’ squad had some heavy graduation losses to cover this season, but got off to a strong start as they finished ninth in the Tiger Run against a strong field.
Bullitt East finished with 276 points. St. Xavier, a new regional rival for the Chargers in Class AAA, won their own meet with 36 points. Another new regional rival, Manual, finished just in front of Bullitt East in eighth with 231 points.
The first runner to get back to the finish line for the Chargers was senior Zach Napier who was 28th overall in 17:26.89. The winner on Saturday was senior Patrick Gregory of Butler in a time of 16:09.41. Butler is also in Bullitt East’s new regional alignment.
Also scoring team points for the Chargers was sophomore Isaac Shelton who was 30th overall in 17:29.00 while junior Michael Montgomery was 64th in 18:07.77. The Chargers also had junior Cole Green finish 81st in 18:19.81 while senior Zac Masden was 140th in 19:09.10.
The other two Bullitt East runners on Saturday were juniors Tate Hatfield and Josh Diersen.
Fern Creek Relays
Bullitt East actually started the season a few days earlier when they competed in the Swags Fern Creek Relays at Charlie Vettiner Park in southern Jefferson County.
This event had a different format for cross-country with two-person teams running in a relay format.
On the girls’ side, the Lady Charger team of Julia Poole and Abby Shlton finished third that day while the team of Sierra Poppell and Abby Reburn was fifth. The Bullitt East duo of Brianna Poole and Jessica Prell was 23rd.
The Bullitt East boys’ program had five teams finish in the top 40 which is strong as there were 68 pairs in the field.
Finishing fourth overall was the team of Zach Napier and Isaac Shelton. The number two Bullitt East team of Michael Montgomery and Cole Green was eighth in this run while Zac Masden and Tate Hatfield teamed up to run 19th. The Charger pairing of Josh Diersen and Brandon Brown was 37th while Eric Sanchez and Hunter Barbagallo was 39th.