This has become a breakout year for Grayson County’s junior cross country runner, Bret Crawford.
It started last year when he seemingly came out of nowhere to win the Region 2 championship, and it has continued this season with him taking first-place finishes in the three straight races leading up to last Saturday’s Greater Louisville Classic Cross Country Invitational.
This race draws top collegiate and high school teams from several states and is a showcase for some of the best talent in the region. On Saturday, 36 teams and 276 runners went to the line and when it was all over, Crawford had a second-place finish for the Cougars, covering the 5K course at E. P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in 16:17.34. Louisville Portland Christian’s Jonathan Taylor won with a time of 16:08.09.
The course at Sawyer Park is notoriously fast, with some of the fastest times in the state over the years being recorded there. But heavy rains overnight made the course softer than normal and the times may have been slower because of that.
After the first mile, Muhlenberg County’s Chase Geary was leading the pack at the front, which included Crawford, Taylor and Apollo’s Tristan Durbin. At two miles, Taylor was leading Crawford by just a couple of seconds. Though Crawford stayed close the rest of the way, he was never able to overtake the runner from Louisville.
Geary finished third and Durbin was fourth. There was just a little over six seconds separating second from fourth.
Crawford’s finish was the capper to a great day for the Cougar runners as they finished seventh out of the 36-team field with 251 points. Cabell Midland, a team from West Virginia, put four runners in the top 30 and won the team title with a total of 124 points. North Hardin finished second with 164 points and Pulaski County was third with 205.
Cougar senior Sheldon Jones, who has also had a fine year for the Cougars, finished 24th overall with a time of 16:59.72. Senior Clay Priddy finished 65th with a time of 17:45.82, while eighth-grader Jarrett Crawford, Bret’s younger brother, finished 91st in 18:06.43. Junior Corbin Harris was the final Cougar runner to record points, finishing 106th with a time of 18:21.43. Bradley Stone ran out of the points for the Cougars, finishing 114th with a time of 18:25.70.
The Lady Cougars also participated in the girls’ 5K race which also featured 36 teams, but with 249 runners. Eighth-grader Grace Gorby was the first Lady Cougar across the line, finishing 149th with a time of 23:09.10. Seventh-grader Kaylee Masden finished 167th in 23:28.55, seventh-grader Emery Crume was 221st in 25:31.58, junior Haley Hayes was 230th in 26:12.69, and freshman Myriam Hanover was 234th in 27:01.49.
Nerinx Hall, a team from St. Louis, Missouri, ran away with the team competition, scoring 54 points, which included the race’s individual winner, junior Sophia Racette, who finished in 18:25.99. Oldenburg Academy, from Indiana, was second with 149 points, while duPont Manual, from Louisville, was third with 151 points. The Lady Cougars finished 36th with 928 points.