Lady Bears place first at Middlesboro
A brand-new, flat, fast course and some unseasonably warm weather were a recipe for new personal bests for many runners, including quite a few from Harlan and Harlan County, on Tuesday at the Middlesboro All-Comers Meet.
The Harlan County girls squad earned their first road victory of the season behind top-10 performances by Breezy Epperson and Cadance Ferguson. Epperson, a senior, finished seventh with a time of 24:43.99, followed immediately by Ferguson (24:46.37).
Ariel Madden (25:56.12) and Shiann Westfelt (25:56.71) finished 11th and 12th, respectively, and Katelyn Hensley (27:39.67) came in 16th. Rounding out the Lady Bears’ results were Laura Creech (22nd, 28:58.26), Baili Boggs (23rd, 30:01.91), Zoie Wilson (26th, 31:39.28), Ally Alred (27th, 32:26.36) and Hailey Madden (31st, 40:44.94). Harlan County was still without the services of junior Katie Graham and freshman Abby Vitatoe, both of whom are expected to return Saturday. The Lady Bears defeated Middlesboro by seven points.
Harlan sophomore Lucy Bryson finished fourth in the race, posting a time of 24:04.57). Ella Morton (28:23.88) came in 19th.
Harlan County senior Alex Lewis set a new personal record for the third straight race and was the individual winner in the boys race with a time of 18:09.05. Junior Josh Lee (19:01.54) came in fourth, and Caleb Brock (eighth, 19:22.62) also posted a top-10 finish. Rounding out the Bears’ results were Cooper McHargue (30th, 22:13.86), Matt Yeary (32nd, 22:15.66), Kenny Skidmore (42nd, 24:18.12) and Andrew Crawford (51st, 26:26.10). Two of the Bears’ regular varsity squad – sophomore Zack Carmical and seventh-grader Daniel Joseph, were unavailable for the race. Whitley County won the race, with the Bears finishing second.
Harlan’s Charles David Morton came in 12th with a time of 20:05.43, followed by Jackson Huff (13th, 20:24.75), Story Miller (15th, 20:38.71) and Jeremiah Mills (28th, 22:01.65).
“It all clicked on Tuesday night for Charles David Morton,” said Harlan coach Tara Bryson. “We have been talking for several weeks about his race strategy, and he did an excellent job executing it. It was fun to watch it happen. Jackson Huff has been running for our middle school team, but we asked him to give varsity a try. Tuesday night, on his second varsity race, he finished second for our team. It is exciting to watch him develop so quickly.
“I continue to be impressed with the effort of our runners from the elementary level all the way through high school. They show up to practice ready to work and that work paid off at the Middlesboro meet on Tuesday night where Charles David Morton, Jackson Huff, and Lucy Bryson all set new personal records. Lucy had a strong finish at Middlesboro to edge out Bell County which allowed her to complete the race fourth place overall. I was so proud to see her dig deep within herself and fight at the end.”
Harlan County edged Barbourville by four points to claim the boys middle school victory. Breydy Daniels led the Bears, finishing fourth with a time of 14:58.90. Junior Sanchez (15:11.68) came in seventh, and Lucas Epperson (15:20.65) finished ninth. Andrew Yeary (17:12.54) and Josh Pinkley (18:41.08) finished 15th and 21st, respectively.
John Mark Bryson came in 12th for Harlan, posting a time of 16:06.48. Harlan’s Makenna Jackson (18:15.12) and Mia Pace (19:18.54) came in fourth and fifth, respectively, on the girls side.
Dashawn Smith finished third to lead the Black Bears in the boys elementary race, posting a time of 7:26.41. Luke Kelly (7:44.59) came in fifth, and Ethan Lewis (8:46.32) finished 11th.
For the girls, Harlan’s Mallory McNiel came in fourth with a time of 9:07.39, and Tess Bryson (9:36.23) finished sixth. Harlan County’s Kaydie Coots (11:03.27) and Abby Sherman (11:45.77) finished eighth and ninth, respectively.
Both teams return to action Saturday at Harlan County in the Black Bear Invitational and Area 9 Championship. The two meets will be run concurrently, with awards given for both.