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The Shelby County girls' cross country team learned a valuable lesson Saturday.
The girls finished 18th out of 24 teams in the Lexington Catholic Invitational, and found out that just how hard their region can be.
"Out of our region there was Sacred Heart, Eastern, South Oldham and us, and we finished fourth of those teams," SCHS head coach Sloane Jacobi said. "It was a good eye-opener for us because it showed that our region will be that close and that tough."
Jacobi said she re-worked the points to include just those four teams and the Lady Rockets were 10 points behind Eastern and a "little more" behind South Oldham.
"It lets the girls know that they have to be ready to compete every week and always give their best because our region is so hard," she said. "I'd much rather this happen now than at the regional."
Janelle Solinger led the Lady Rockets, coming in 64th overall out of 178 individual runners with a time of 21:46. Rounding out the team's top five were: Shera Clark in 85th in 22:31, Alexandrea Shank - 101st in 22:56, Jennifer Sharber - 109th in 23:04 and Taylor Webb - 113th in 23:11.
The Lady Rockets were without Alyssa Anderson, one of their top three runners, but Jacobi said she was very impressed with Shank, a sixth-grader competing in her first varsity race.
"She came in third on our team, and even as a sixth-grader showed some leadership," the coach said. "She stepped it up and ran really well against some very difficult competition."
Jacobi said the girls now know how hard they have to work, and what they have to work on.
"Our times were pretty good. It wasn't like we just didn't run well; it was just a very tough course against very tough competition," she said. "We talked after the race about how we need to move our front runners up and push to get all our top five moved up in the pack."
The key, she said, will be getting the girls comfortable enough to know they're capable of pushing harder.
"We've been working on running together in practice and that's a big start," she said. "But the girls need to have the confidence to know that they can move up and push it that extra step to move it up. They have to be able to leave it all on the course. I'm confident that they can do it, but they have to be confident enough in themselves to actually do it."
The girls still have two regular season meets, this week at Woodford County and then the Meet of Champions the following week to move toward that goal.
"I think these results let the girls know what they have to do," Jacobi said. "So far this week they've seemed really focused on improving and making that push forward."