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Stacey Eden decided it was up to him.
After staying with the pack through the first 2 miles, Eden said the pace was much slower than he expected, so it was time to take off.
“I thought the pack would go out a lot faster, but when we started to get near the two-mile mark it never picked up. So, I thought if I wanted to get a good time I had to go.”
And go he did.
Eden opened up a lead of about 35 or 40 yards and sustained that over the last mile to take first place at the Region 4, Class 3A cross-country meet at Seneca Park on Saturday and led his team to second place and a berth in the state meet.
“That’s pretty typical of the way Stacey runs,” SCHS Coach Randall McDowell said. “He picks his point to push out, and that’s where he goes. Before the race we emphasized running a smart race, and I think he did that. And I was very pleased with how strong he looked over the last mile.”
Eden finished the race in 15:55, about 16 seconds faster than second place Joe Mallek of Oldham County.
Eden’s time was a little slower than McDowell had predicted before running on the park’s flat, fast course. Eden, however, wasn’t bothered by his time.
“When you consider where we were [in time] at the two-mile mark, then I’m really happy with the time,” he said. “If it was just a regular invitational then I would’ve been more focused on running a faster time, but with a meet like this – a region or state meet – I’m more interested in getting the win.”
Eden led a group of five Rockets who finished in the top 16 of the 52-individual racers, and took second place in the team competition. Shelby finished with 48 points, 20 behind Region winner Trinity.
“Looking back at last year we were within five points of Trinity at the region, but realistically [Trinity] is an incredibly strong team this year,” McDowell said. “I thought our guys ran a really strong race, and being runner-up at the region two years in a row is something to be proud of, for sure.”
J.J. Depasco was second for the Rockets, finishing in eighth place, Jonathan Pernell was next in 10th, Alec Zaremba was fourth on the team in 13th place, and Zach Carter rounded out the Rockets’ top five in 16th.
“Jonathan ran a personal best, Alec was about a minute faster than anytime he’s posted since he came back and I thought all our guys ran very well.”
Placing second overall earned the Rockets’ a trip to the state meet next weekend at the Kentucky Horse Park, the top four teams from the Region qualified for the state meet.
“We’re certainly pleased to go back to the state meet and we’ll see what we can do,” McDowell said. “St. Xavier, Daviess County and Trinity are all going to be very, very tough to beat, but hopefully we can improve on last year’s sixth-place finish.”