Sacred Heart's Brink sets record for Class 3-A title
Sunday, November 11, 2007

By Tom Whitus
Special to The Courier-Journal

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Victory was shared by some of the youngest runners yesterday in the Kentucky high school girls' state cross country meet at the Kentucky Horse Park, but no performance was bigger than that of Emma Brink, the Sacred Heart freshman who shattered the meet record in winning the Class 3-A title.

Assumption was almost as impressive in winning the team title.

Sophomore Kelsey McCain of Pendleton County improved on a runner-up effort last year by pulling away late to win the Class 2-A individual crown. Bell County was led by a sixth-grader to win the team title.

Eighth-grader Kaitlin Snapp of Danville led a youth movement in Class A to defend her title, and St. Henry returned to the top of the heap by edging rival and last year's champ, Walton-Verona.

Brink pulled away from top-flight competition to win the 5,000-meter race in a record 18 minutes, 20.52 seconds, nearly six seconds quicker than the record time set by Mercy's Carmen Mims in 2004.

"(Mary Grace) Pellegrini and (Anna) Bostrom pushed me at the start," Brink said. "We had a really fast first mile. I like pushing the first mile."

Brink also used strategy to capture the record.

"I just push up the hills and stretch my legs on the downhill," said Brink. "I felt like I just gave it my all."

Bostrom, a Woodford County sophomore, was second in 18:39.67 -- the fourth-fastest ever in the meet -- and John Hardin sophomore Maggie Mattingly (18:50.96) was third. Pellegrini, a Manual senior, finished eighth.

Assumption placed five runners in the top 17 to win the team title with 55 points, well ahead of Sacred Heart (105) and Daviess County (137). Junior Ellen Daly (19:00) paced Assumption in fifth.

"They get the credit," Assumption coach Barry Haworth said. "They're a wonderful group of girls."

Assumption came into the race as one of the teams to beat, but Haworth wasn't going to let that get in the way.

"There's always going to be some nervousness, but we focus on the process," he said. "The glory is not in the outcome -- it is in the aspiring."

Class 2-A

McCain's strategy was to incorporate sprints and jogs throughout the race, but an early traffic jam kept things from going as planned.

"It was pretty crowded early," she said. "It worked out all right, but I didn't sprint as much as I was supposed to."

By the midway point, McCain started to pull away, but she never felt in control.

"I didn't ever feel that way," she said. "The farther I ran, the more tired I became."

But by the homestretch, the sophomore had the race in hand. She won in 19:22.60, and Whitney Maurer, an Elizabethtown eighth-grader, was second in 19:39.71.

The top seven finishers were sophomores or younger.

Sixth-grader Kelly Brown (fourth, 19:59.18) led the way for Bell County, which put three runners in the top 16 and won the team title with 118 points.

The team lost four runners from last year's state runner-up team and had no seniors on the squad.

"Our young runners had to step up," Bell County coach Chuck Blank said. "It was a team effort all around."

Defending champion Muhlenberg South -- paced by senior Morgan Poore (ninth, 20:09.10) -- was second with 125 points.

Class A

Snapp covered the course in 18:58.45, ahead of Owen County freshman Danielle Hoop (19:08.83), but it took an all-out effort by the eighth-grader to defend her title.

"It was a little more difficult than last year, especially that last mile," Snapp said. "Hoop stayed with me the whole time."

Natalie Brown of Walton-Verona -- another eighth-grader -- finished third in 19:21.92.

"There are just some amazing runners that are just young," Snapp said.

St. Henry had won three straight team titles before finishing second to Walton-Verona last year.

"It was our motivation from the start of the season," St. Henry coach Tony Harden said. "Especially for the girls who were part of the team last year."

St. Henry placed five runners in the top 26, paced by sophomore Maria Frigo (eighth, 19:44.63), to win the team title with 73 points. Walton-Verona finished second with 94 points.