- By KEVIN COLLEY
- The Morehead News
When adversity hits, it’s all about staying the course.
And in the case of the Rowan County Vikings’ cross country programs, that’s exactly what they chose to do during Saturday morning’s Class 2A, Region 6 Cross County Meet at Boyd County High School in Cannonsburg.
Despite an injury that hampered the efforts of Lucas Hart, Chase Morehouse and Braiden Thacker stepped up their running efforts dramatically in the eighth-grader’s place.
Morehouse and Thacker’s times, along with the strong paces of Nick Anderson, Braxton Ward and Michael Antrobus, allowed the Rowan County boys unit to grab the fourth and final transfer spot as the Vikings sent the boys unit to the state meet with a score of 103, edging Ashland’s 126 for the final spot in the field.
Following the meet, the elation on Steve Cyrus’ and Shawn Thacker’s faces were quiet evident – but that was to be expected, considering the hurdles that the boys unit had to clear in order to obtain a state qualifying score.
“With the injuries that we had, we were just fortunate today to run as well as we did,” Cyrus said. “We’ll absolutely take this effort, that’s for sure. We survived and advanced, and now, we’re on to the next part. The guys helped each other out and were pulling for each other. It’s been beautiful to watch all season, and it was no different today.”
“It was a gutsy effort by our guys,” Thacker said. “We just said, ‘Somebody has to find a way. Just dig deep.’ It’s a good day, because at 8:30 a.m. (on Saturday morning), we didn’t know that we’d be talking about qualifying for the state meet. Nick, Braxton and Michael ran great today, and Chase just keeps getting better, so it was just a good day all the way around.”
Anderson, who has paced Rowan County for much of the season, ran a 17:27.34 to grab a sixth-place finish and help lead its charge toward a state run. Ward wasn’t far behind, as his 18:14.65 put the junior just six spots back of Anderson in 12th position.
At the middle of the Rowan County lineup, Antrobus put together another strong effort by running a time of 19:00.34 to put the multi-sport star in 21st for the meet.
But on this day, it was the efforts of Morehouse, Thacker and Hart that stood out on this day.
With Hart laboring due to an injury, Morehouse and Thacker – the latter of whom was dealing with an injury of his own – had to step up their performances with Rowan County’s No. 4 runner struggling to get through the course.
However, the efforts of the upperclassmen were plenty enough for the Vikings, as Morehouse clicked off a time of 19:53.06 to grab a 29th place finish, while Thacker’s 22:13 clinched a 44th place finish for the senior and the state berth for the boys unit.
“Lucas gave a great effort,” Thacker said. “I gave him the option to pull out of the race less than a mile into it, but he kept on trying. Finally, when it looked like Braiden was going to be able to get it done, as far as getting the race completed, there was no sense in Lucas trying to risk further injury, so I hollered to Steve to pull him off.”
“It’s just so nice to see it all come together in the regional meet,” Cyrus said. “I’m so proud of them for pushing through. There was a lot of sweat and a lot of discomfort, and they’re not jogging, they’re racing, so it is nice to see each of them qualify after putting in the time and the effort in during practice.”
In addition to the efforts of the Rowan County boys, Kelsey Cyrus also qualified for state on the girls side as an individual. Cyrus, who finished 13th in the girls 6-2AA meet, ran a 21:55.24 during the event.
Cyrus’ efforts were followed by Angela Marcum, Amy Yang, Baylie Sloan, and Taylor Robinson, who also competed in the 6-2AA meet.
Marcum, who ran a 23:39.30 to lead the quartet, finished 26th and came within 55 seconds of a state qualifying time. Yang (25:37.84), Sloan (25:45.15), and Robinson (27:28.59) finished 36th, 37th, and 46th, respectively.
Overall, Russell and Ashland Blazer won the Region 6-2AA boys and girls cross country meets with scoring outputs of 29 and 55. Boyd County’s Elijah Miller, along with the Kittens’ Mary Alice Thornburg, won the individual titles with their times of 17:01.08 and 19:54.46.
With the Class 2A, Region 6 Meet in the books, the entire boys unit, along with Cyrus, will compete in the Class 2A State Meet. Each of the boys and girls meets will be held on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.