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Harlan girls hope to send 2 to state meet

With a full girls team set to toe the starting line at a regional championship meet for the first time in program history, the Harlan Lady Dragons are already stake one claim in school history. Coach Connor Sakati believes they could be in position for a second as well, with at least two girls having a legitimate chance at qualifying for the state championship meet.

“Currently, we’re seeded fifth, but we have two girls who have a strong chance to qualify for state,” Sakati said. “I’m hesitantly hopeful. All in all, we’ve had a strong season.”

Lucy Bryson will run her final regional meet Saturday in the Class A Region 6 meet at Wayne County. The senior is fresh off a school-record performance last week at Middlesboro.

“She broke the school record in the middle of the season, and proceeded to break her own record again,” Sakati said of the four-year runner who has qualified for state twice previously, as a freshman and junior.

Junior Ella Morton has exploded in 2019, most recently notching the program’s second-fastest time ever on the same night that Bryson broke the record at Middlesboro.

“She’s had a strong season as well, and has been running neck and neck with Lucy recently,” Sakati said. “She has never before qualified for the state meet, but I am hoping this year will be different.”

Mia Pace has emerged as the team’s solid No. 3 runner as a freshman after gaining experience in elementary and middle school.

“She’s been running well, too,” Sakati said. “She has finished as high at 15th in a couple of meets, and her (personal record) is on the region course.”

Harlan’s fourth and fifth slots rotate between several other freshmen, including Madison Forrester, Emma Owens and Eliza Smith.

Harlan has had only one constant boys varsity runner this fall, as junior Tristen Cornette has shown steady improvement throughout the season.

“He has taken minutes off his time since the beginning of the year,” Sakati said.

Middle school runners Dylan Cox and Ethan Farley are also expected to participate in Saturday’s meet.

The meet will be held at Cave Lake Event Park in Monticello. The boys Class A race will begin at 1 p.m., followed by the girls race at 1:45.