Shelby's Eden takes top spot in region meet

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By Todd Martin

The Shelby County boys' cross country team finished second in the Class 3A Region 3 meet at Charlie Vettiner Park Saturday.

Stacey Eden led the Rockets with a first place finish, more than nine seconds ahead of second place Eddie Griffin of Fern Creek.

Shelby and Trinity each had three runners in the top 10, and all five runners in the top 15, but the Shamrocks edged out the Rockets by five points to take the team crown.

"I was pleasantly surprised with how close it was," SCHS head coach Randall McDowell said. "Stacey obviously ran a great race, and J.J. Depasco, Zach Carter and Jonathan Pernell ran really well also. Alec Zaremba was in the top 10 for us. Really, I thought all our guys ran strong, smart races, but (Trinity) just slipped past us."

Eden ran with the front pack most of the race before making his move with one mile to go.

"Right about the two mile mark he started his surge, and they just couldn't keep up with him," McDowell said of his sophomore leader. "They just couldn't answer him. He's fun to watch because he's so smart and he knows when to push the pace and when to hang back. Despite just being a sophomore his race experience really shows."

Eden finished the race in 16:16, and rounding out the Rockets' top five were: Zaremba - 8th place in 17:16, Depasco - 10th in 17:20, Carter - 13th in 17:35 and Pernell - 15th in 17:47.

"We're excited about making state as a team," McDowell said. "Zach (Carter) and Jonathan (Pernell) were both coming off injuries and ran really well, and I think we've got a pretty good team going into the final meet."

The state meet, which will be run at 2:15 p.m. at the Kentucky Horse Park Saturday, will test a pretty young Rocket squad.

"The competition will be fierce," McDowell said. "Apollo, Davies County, Woodford County, Manual, St. Xavier -- there's a long list of strong teams, but I think we're right there in the mix."

With such a large race -- there will be more than 200 individual runners at the meet -- McDowell said it can be difficult.

"It's easy to get lost out there," he said. "Stacey and Alec I expect will be in the lead pack, and our three-through-seven runners need to find somebody to run with and push to the finish. Plus, we're still relatively young with a sophomore, a freshman and three juniors in our top five."

While winning state will be tough, McDowell said a top five finish would be a great building point.

"Top five would be a great effort for these guys, and I think it's something we could really build upon for next year. We're young with state experience, so hopefully we can go out and perform well and use that as a stepping stone."