Sunday, November 13, 2005


Steinmetz, Paul Dunbar have big days
They come away with team titles


By Tom Whitus
Special to The Courier-Journal



LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Junior Laura Steinmetz led Paul Dunbar to the Class AAA title in the girls' state cross country championships yesterday at the Kentucky Horse Park.

In Class AA, junior Rachel Blank held off a group of eighth-graders to win and lift Bell County to the championship.

Trimble County sophomore Valerie Thomas made her move late and held off all comers to upset defending Class A champion Jenna Siemer of St. Henry. Siemer, however, led St. Henry to a third straight title.


Class AAA

Steinmetz and teammate Colleen Davis finished 1-2 to lead Paul Dunbar, and while Steinmetz relished the individual accomplishment, she was happier for Davis and her team.

"I'm so excited about Colleen getting second," said Steinmetz. "It was our goal to go 1-2 at state for her senior year."

Steinmetz turned in one of the most impressive outings of the day, finishing the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) course in a personal-best 18 minutes, 43.30 seconds. Davis was well back at 19:20.

"At the first 400 (meters) I was nervous because we went out so fast," Steinmetz said. "I put a lot of pressure on the race. I wasn't as relaxed."

She settled down, then pulled away to a large margin.

"I definitely went into it expecting it to be a really big challenge." Steinmetz said.

John Hardin eighth-grader Maggie Mattingly finished third in 19:29.

Paul Dunbar won the title with 80 points. Manual, paced by freshman Elise Medley (12th, 19:53) was second with 85 points. Assumption took third with 130 points, led by freshman Ellen Daly (fourth, 19:36).

"It's a big plus to have those two girls on the team," coach Phil Wilder said of Steinmetz and Davis. "There have been high expectations for this team all season long."

Class AA

Blank led at the two-mile mark by five seconds and was being pushed by her teammates.

"We tried to pack together," Blank said. "We're each other's inspiration. That's why we run together."

Her strategy was to hang off the pace, then make her move.

"I stuck with my strategy," said Blank, who made her move at the one-mile mark. "I was worried the whole race. I just tried to push it and do my best."

Blank did just that, recording a personal-best 19:55.05.

Spencer County eighth-grader Chelsey Talley finished second in 20:01. Pendleton County eighth-grader Kelsey McCain was third in 20:06. In all, eighth-graders finished second through fifth, with Rockcastle County fifth-grader Michaela Hunter placing sixth in 20:16.

Bell County won the title with 99 points. Highlands was second with 105, and Rockcastle County was third (106).

Class A

Thomas, who finished fourth last year, was ready to improve on that performance.

"I was excited and ready to go at the beginning," she said.

That excitement translated into a winning time of 19:43.64, bettering by 49 seconds her previous-best mark.

Owen County seventh-grader Danielle Hoop came on to finish second in 19:50, Siemer was third in 19:55 and Danville's Kaitlin Snapp was fourth (20:06).

Siemer's third-place finish, though disappointing on an individual level, helped pace St. Henry to its third straight title. St. Henry placed five runners in the top 13 to score 39 points. Trimble County was second with 104.

"It was a real strong performance," St. Henry coach Tony Harden said of his team's effort. "I was surprised we put five in the top 15. This is the most impressive performance out of our three (titles)."

Harden's challenge was to find new ways to motivate a team that is used to winning.

"We can't assume we'll be here next year," said Harden. "We had to take advantage of it now."