RICHMOND — As the defending region girls cross country champion, Rebecca Shelton knew the field would try to hunt her down. However, it was the junior and her teammates that tracked down some personal and team goals in the 2006 Class A Region 5 meet Saturday at Battlefield Park in Richmond.
“I was really nervous,” Shelton said of her pre-race thoughts. “I knew that I won it last year, and I was going to be someone that other people wanted to catch. But, I knew if I held strong they would probably fall off and I was really glad to see (teammate) Mary Ellen (Wimberly) right behind me. And that helped me keep my pace, even though I was by myself.”
Wimberly and Shelton finished first and third last year, but this year broke loose around the one-mile mark and never looked back to take the top two spots for the Lady Patriots.
The one-two finish, plus solid performances from Kate Wimberly, Leila Cahill and Chelsea Harnack helped secure a first-ever region team title under the direction of fourth-year head coach Jason Moncer.
Kate Wimberly finished ninth in a time of 21:58.15 which was a goal of hers at the beginning of the season. The senior captain wanted to get her time under 22 minutes.
“Phenomenal job overall,” Moncer said of his team’s performance. “I’m very impressed with not just our one and two runners, Becca and Mary Ellen, but Leila finished really well. Chelsea didn’t have a great race, but she was a good time and I was really impressed with her toughness to just finish. I’m amazed with Kate Wimberly. She had a goal to be under 22 by the end of her senior year and this year and she hit it. I’m just so happy for her to see her get that goal.”
Harnack and Cahill also did their personal bests on their home course in the biggest race of the year so far. Cahill finished just outside the top 10 at 11th in 22:16.47, while Harnack crossed in 15th at 22:33.68.
Rounding out the Lady Patriot runners were Meghann Hart at 25th in 24:12.92 and Courtney Coe in 40th in 27:20.86.
Model was edged out in the team competition last year by one point by Green County, which finished second this year, four points back.
“We are extremely happy,” Mary Ellen Wimberly said of the team title. “We knew it was going to be really close (this year). We knew Green County had four in the top 10. We knew it was going to be really close. But, our fourth and fifth runners — Leila and Chelsea — they really stepped up because they were the ones that made the difference. And helped us win as a team.”
Shelton repeated as champion in a time of 20:37.95, while Mary Ellen Wimberly took second in 21:07.02. And with the win Model will all be racing in next Saturday’s state meet at the Kentucky Horse Park, along with Green County, Somerset and Oneida Baptist.
Lin and Wright move on to state
Following the girls race was the boys Class A Region 5 race Saturday at Battlefield Park in Richmond. Green County (30) edged Somerset (37) for the top spot, while Red Bird and Oneida Baptist also secured team bids to the state meet.
The Briar Jumpers Joplin Adam finished the course in a record time 17:37.87 to win the race
Berea’s Nick Wright, finishing 15th in 19:03.03, and Model’s Wan Lin, finishing 24th in 19:45.63, received individual bids to next Saturday’s state meet.
Neither school finished high enough — in the top four — to secure a team spot, but the top seven runners not on a state-bound team also get at large bids.
The Patriots finished sixth with 163 points, while the Pirates only had two runners in the race and therefore not enough for the team competition.
Michael Mason, 28th in 20:09.8; Spencer Treadway, 34th in 20:47.71; Chase Bowlin, 43rd in 21:58.08; Nathan Robinson, 55th in 24:26.86; Seth Johnson, 56th in 24:56.91; and Ryan Thompson, 60th in 26:28.34 rounded out Model’s team.
Dana Carlburg was the only other runner for Berea and he finished 63rd in 27:21.74.