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Cross-country picking up speed heading to regionals

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By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The six Bullitt County cross-country teams are into the final two weeks of the regular season and many of the programs are having strong seasons and are positioned to make strong runs at titles in the upcoming Class AA and Class AAA regional meets set for Saturday, Nov. 2.

Leading the way are the two Bullitt East programs as head coach Lenny Raley has each of his teams ranked sixth in the state in Class AA. The Chargers have an experienced team that finished eighth in the state meet last season while the Lady Chargers are a young and upcoming team that has made big strides this season.

Also in Class AA, North Bullitt is rebuilding under head coach Michael Whitfill. The Eagles can put a competitive team on the course on the boys’ side, but being in the strongest region in the state, they are behind the Oldham County squads as well as Bullitt East but could put individuals in the state meet. Whitfill is working to build-up the Lady Eagle program which had just two runners last season.

Bullitt Central is still competing in Class AAA, although their enrollment is now the smallest of the three Bullitt County squads. That won’t change until realignment. Still, the Lady Cougars have a strong squad paced by senior Alyssa Shifflett and the team could well advance to the state meet for a fourth straight season. The numbers are up for the Bullitt Central boys, but they are still learning and are young.

In recent meets, all of the teams have had strong points.

Henry County Invitational

Both Bullitt East and North Bullitt recently took part in the Henry County Invitational. That was an important meet in the area as it was run over the same course as the upcoming Class AA, Region 2 meet on Nov. 2.

On the boys’ side, Bullitt East won the team title with 41 points, which was far ahead of runner-up Christian Academy with 57 points. North Bullitt had boys in the race, but did not field a full team.

The first Charger back to the finish line was senior Brandon Wiseheart who had a strong run, finishing third overall with a time of 17:29.04. Bullitt East also got a sixth-place finish from junior Zach Napier as well as well as having sophomore Cole Green in 8th, freshman Isaac Shelton in 11th and junior Zac Masden in 19th. Bullitt East sophomore Michael Montgomery was one spot behind Masden.

North Bullitt did not have its top two runners in this meet, senior Kyle Pursley and junior Logan Polley, so had only four runners. All four runners finished at least 54th. That group included senior Cameron Nalley, junior Jordan Morris, eighth-grader Hunter Ashmore and freshman Jarrod Moss.

The story on the girls’ side was much the same as neither Bullitt East nor North Bullitt fielded a full team.

Bullitt East ran without one of its top runners in freshman Sierra Poppell, but did get a fourth-place finish from eighth-grader Caroline Collins with a time of 20:43.09. Bullitt East’s Abby Shelton and Jessica Prell finished 11th and 12th while Olivia Napier was 18th.

North Bullitt sophomore Chelsey Slayton was the first Lady Eagle back to the line and finished 13th. Also running that day for the green and gold were freshman Hannah Thompson and sophomore Jenna Keith.

DeSales Invitational

This past weekend was the DeSales Invitational at McNeely Lake Park in southern Jefferson County, but because it was Fall Break for many schools in the area there was a light turnout for this event.

North Bullitt did compete and finished seventh as a team. The best finish was turned in by Polley in 18th with a time of 19:21.97. Also running that day for the Eagles was Nally, Morris, freshmen Jayce Johnston as well as Ashmore and Moss.

St. Xavier Master Meet

Last week was also a slow week for the St. Xavier Mast Schedule Meet.

North Bullitt did put a full team together for that meet and finished fifth out of six teams. It was a strong run for North Bullitt’s Pursley who finished second. Polley had a 16th place finish and the Eagles also had good runs from Nalley, Morris, Bailey Hendrix, Ashmore and Colton Johnston.

On the girls’ side that day, both North Bullitt and Bullitt Central had top-10 finishes.

Slayton finished eighth in that race. Also running for the Lady Eagles were Hannah Thompson and Keith.

Bullitt Central put a full team together for the race and finished third behind Collegiate and Kentucky Country Day. More importantly, the Lady Cougars finished ahead of regional rival Pleasure Ridge Park.

Shifflett did not run in this race for the Lady Cougars but Chasity Wilson had a strong run, finishing seventh in 22:17.00. Bullitt Central’s Nellie Lawrence was 16th while teammates Bridget Shelton and Jessika Hutchison finished 24th and 26th, respectively. Also running that day for the Lady Cougars were Kimmy Stocker, Hannah Wells, Kayley Strange and Sierra Arnold.

Other Recent Races

Some other notable events in recent weeks for the cross-country squads included the Hillbilly Run in Bardstown.

Bullitt East and Bullitt Central locked horns in the girls’ race with Shifflett finishing third for the Lady Cougars in 19:39.66. Shifflett finished just a few steps in front of Bullitt East’s Poppell who was timed in 19:41.50.

Bullitt East’s Collins was 10th in that race. Unfortunately, the girls’ team scores were not posted from that day.

Both Bullitt Central and Bullitt East also stepped way up in competition recently when they took part in the Greater Louisville Classic at Tom Sawyer State Park in Jefferson County. This event attracted 56 schools from four states.

On the boys’ side, Bullitt East finished 16th with 506 points, but that is actually a very strong score. Wiseheart was the first Charger back to the finish line in 80th.

The girls’ race had 350 runners and Bullitt Central’s Shifflett had a strong outing as the senior finished 16th in 19:50.95 That finish was behind two Manual runners who will be Shifflett’s toughest competition in the regional.

Bullitt East’s Poppell also ran well as she finished 36th in 20:32.49. Other local runners in the top 100 of that race included Bullitt East’s Shelton and Prell as well as Bullitt Central sophomore Lauren Redding.