The Boyd County course was muddy and slick. The weather was cold and the sky was gloomy. The clouds spit rain off and on all day. But the Morgan County Cross Country team shook off the conditions and came through with a strong effort at the Regional Meet this past Saturday. Strong enough to send the Girls squad to a team title for the third time in four years. Strong enough for Kailee Perry to capture her sixth straight individual Regional championship.
And strong enough to make school history for the boys: For the first time in Morgan County Cross Country history, the Morgan men are sending an entire team to the State XC meet.
Let’s recap the girls: After two years of dominating the Class A, Region 7 competition (2015 and 2016), the Lady Cougars were upset by arch-rival Bath County last season by one point. Fast forward to 2018. Despite a fall campaign fraught with injury and illness that beset almost the whole squad, the ladies came together at the right time to take back that Regional crown last Saturday. Morgan outlasted Bath, 38-42, with the Elliott County Lady Lions 27 points behind (69) in third place. Raceland (109), Pikeville (118), and Phelps (140) trailed further back.
Kailee Perry put the cap on a remarkable high school XC career - at least at the Regional level - by winning the Class A, Region 7 individual title for the sixth consecutive year. As noted before, the Morgan senior had to overcome an iron deficiency that surfaced early in the season, and is only now regaining her stride. This win may not have had the domination she has shown in the past, but perhaps was the sweetest of all because of the comeback achieved.
The top eight runners medal at the Regional Meet, and junior Faith Bolin stepped up to lead the rest of the girls by placing seventh to earn one of those awards. Her time was 22:41 for the 5K (3.1 mile) distance. Faith has stepped up in the second half of the season in particular to help lead the team in the pursuit of that team title.
Krista Perry placed tenth in a time of 23:09, with Anna Cantrell trailing close behind in 23:15 (11th place).
Jaime-Lynn Daniel continued her remarkable improvement this year by nailing down the #5 spot in a time of 24:27.
She finished in the 16th position. Rounding out the top seven for the Lady Cougars were seventh-graders Janesey Lewis (18th – 25:37) and Jaden Braudis (21st – 26:31). There were 50 young women in the race.
Now for some more history: The Morgan County boys had never been to the State Cross Country Meet as a team. There have been individuals over the years, but never a team. Head Coach Charlie Bolin has dreamed of that effort for several years, and his dream finally came to fruition this fall as the boys slipped past Phelps and East Ridge to capture sixth place - and the last available slot for the State Championships next weekend.
Team scores for the Class A, Region & Boys race were: Pikeville (30), Bath County (34), Elliott County (85), Betsy Layne (95), Raceland (114), Morgan County (171), Phelps (184), and East Ridge (185). There were 14 schools and some 67 runners that competed on the male side of the ledger.
Spencer Bolin led the charge by placing 30th in a time of 21:34, one of his best efforts of the year. Eighth-grader Kye Havens ran #2 for the boys, placing 38th in 22:42 - a PR (Personal Record) for the youngster. Newcomers Jeremy Pack and Issac Wright ran their best races as well. Pack was 42nd in 23:28, followed closely by Wright - 43rd in 23:42.
Aidan Morgan was the #5 runner for the Cougars, as he crossed the line in 25:26 (55th). Rounding out the top seven were: Cameron Patrick (59th - 27:18) and Tucker Bolin (61st - 27:25).
So now it’s on to the State Meet at the Horse Park in Lexington this Saturday. The boys will toe the starting line at 9:30 am, with the girls to follow at 10:15. The ladies hope to make some noise: They’re shooting for a top-10 team finish, and many believe that Kailee Perry has a legitimate shot to re-capture the individual State title that she won in 2016. Good luck, Cougar distance runners - do us proud and race well …..