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LEXINGTON – Three down, three to go for Gabby Karas.
Karas, a freshman at Collins High School, won her third consecutive Class AA state cross-country title Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
And once again Karas, whose goal is to capture three more state championships in her final three years of high school, did it in record fashion, breaking her own course record by crossing the finish line in 17 minutes, 39.04 seconds.
“I didn’t think I’d get it today,” Karas said afterward. “I felt pretty good, but that last mile it was really hard to breathe because it was so windy.”
Karas, who won last year’s race in 17:44.18, finished more than 56 seconds ahead of Paducah Tilghman junior Aleja Grant (18:34.51), who was second for the second consecutive year. Lexington Catholic freshman Michaela Reinhart was third in 19:05.66. Reinhart had beaten Karas on Oct. 19 in the Small School race of Catholic’s Invitational, winning in 18:22.18 (Karas was second in 18:33.15).
Saturday, though, Karas was in top form. Coming off a personal-best 17:34.32 in the Region 3 meet, Karas broke out early, just as she did last year, putting a good distance between herself and the rest of the field. Then she tried to “see what I could do,” she said.
“I told her, ‘If you really get out and race your race, then no one is going to be able to touch you,’” Titans Coach Stephen Drawbaugh said. “I knew if she got out fast and hammered it at the two-mile, no one would be able to get her.”
Led by Karas, Collins finished fifth – its second top-five finish in three years (the Titans were third in 2011). Highlands, which placed four runners among the top 18, won its second consecutive team title, with 76 points. Christian Academy of Louisville was second with 152, and North Oldham third with 176. Scott High placed fourth with 185, and the Titans were 66 points behind the Eagles.
After Karas sophomore Janette Hynes finished 44th(21:53.13), freshman Hannah Stumbo 71st(22:25.98) and juniors Sinead Maharrey and Elizabeth McGuire were 78th(22:37.73) and 101st(23:00.71), respectively. Also for the Titans, senior Katie Vogel was 107th(23:06.48) and junior Brandi Pratt 166th(24:52.20).
“Being able to add those basketball girls [Hynes, Stumbo and Vogel] was huge for us,” Drawbaugh said. “It added that competitive nature that we were missing.”
Aldridge leads SCHS foursome
Seventh-grader Carson Aldridge led Shelby County’s contingent of four runners, finishing in 60th place in a personal-best 22:13.51.
“She ran really well,” Rockets Coach Andrew Danner said. “She just keeps getting better every week.”
Aldridge, however, wasn’t feeling so well at the start line.
“I was more nervous than I usually am,” she said. “I wanted to just get it over with, because before the race, my stomach was starting to hurt.”
Afterward, however, Aldridge was feeling much better.
“I’m very happy,” she said with a smile.
Also for Shelby, junior Kayce Byrnside was 79th(22:38.15), freshman Suzanne Gayle 86th(22:44.61) and senior Kate Schaefer 106th(23:06.21).
“We only lose Kate, and we have a couple of younger ones who are ready to step up,” said Danner, whose team finished fourth at the region. “Everybody is just really excited to see how we’re going to come back next year.”
Class AA state meet results
Team scores – 1. Highlands 76; 2. CAL 152; 3. North Oldham 176; 4. Scott 185; 5. Collins 251; 6. Lexington Catholic 262; 7. Boyle County 262; 8. Calloway County 265; 9. South Warren 266; 10. Webster County 276; 11. Elizabethtown 277; 12. Fort Campbell 280; 13. Edmonson County 301; 14. Boyd County 358; 15. John Hardin 388; 16. Fleming County 419; 17. Casey County 431; 18. East Carter 439; 19. Mason County 441; 20. Corbin 445; 21. Wayne County 450; 22. Nelson County 542; 23. Franklin County 637; 24. Letcher County Central 664; 25. Johnson Central 683; 26. Trigg County 700; 27. Knott County Central 847.
Top 10 individuals – 1. Gabby Karas (Collins) 17:39.04; 2. Aleja Grant (Paducah Tilghman) 18:34.51; 3. Michaela Reinhart (Lexington Catholic) 19:05.66; 4. Caroline Haas (South Warren) 19:27.84; 5. Chloe Gastright (Highlands) 19:36.77; 6. Lexi Flynn (Scott) 19:38.48; 7. Erin Edmundson (North Oldham) 19:43.06; 8. Hannah Godfrey (Elizabethtown) 19:49.18; 9. Sydney Ossege (Highlands) 19:59.62; 10. Hannah Herd (CAL) 20:02.77.
Other CHS finishers: 44. Janette Hynes 21:53.13; 71. Hannah Stumbo 22:25.98; 78. Sinead Maharrey 22:37.73; 101. Elizabeth McGuire 23:00.71; 107. Katie Vogel 23:06.48; 166. Brandi Pratt 24:52.20.
SCHS finishers: 60. Carson Aldridge 22:13.51; 79. Kayce Byrnside 22:38.15; 86. Suzanne Gayle 22:44.61; 106. Kate Schaefer 23:06.21.