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CROSS COUNTRY
Shelby County's Eden, Valkyries' Brink win titles

By Bob White

Special to The Courier-Journal
November 4, 2007


The pressure of being No. 1 statewide among Class 3-A cross country runners didn't bother Stacey Eden of Shelby County and Emma Brink of Sacred Heart Academy as they won Region Three titles yesterday at Charlie Vettiner Park. "I just try not to think about it," Eden, a senior, said after covering 5,000 meters in 16 minutes, 16 seconds, to beat Fern Creek senior Eddie Griffin by 9 seconds. "It does put pressure on you, but it's not too bad."

Brink, a freshman, outran teammate Emme McAtee, a junior, to win the girls' race in 18:46.3. "I don't pay any attention to the rankings, " Brink said. "They don't determine who wins. It all comes down to the race."

Perennial power Trinity, ranked No. 4 and coached by Chad Waggoner, won the boys' team title 42-47 over No. 9 Shelby County. Keith Albertson, a senior and former soccer player running cross country for the first time, finished third to lead the Shamrocks' top five places.

Despite Sacred Heart's 1-2 finish, Assumption No. 1 in 3-A edged the No. 2 Valkyries 32-35 for the girls' team crown. Oldham County's Annie Barry ran third, but Assumption placed five runners among the first nine, with Ellen Daly the leader in fourth place.

The top four teams in each region and the top seven individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the 3-A state meet on Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Assumption will be seeking its first state title.


Girls

Brink took the lead from the start with McAtee right behind, and they never let up. Brink's strategy was simple: "Get a fast start and run. I just wanted to do the best I could. "

"Emm a won her first race this year and kept on going, " Sacred Heart coach Rick Heim said. "She's such a good-natured runner. She glows in the positive and never spends too much energy on nervous tension. "

McAtee finished second to Eastern's Sarah Turi in last year's regional. Turi ran 16th this time, but "she's been battling sickness lately, " McAtee said about her friend. "Emma and I work together every race. We push each other."


Boys

Eden, who finished third in the 2006 regional, stayed back in the pack for a while, then made his move. "After two miles, I started to push the pace, " he said. "Everybody hesitated about doing it, so I made the big kick. It was too windy to take the lead from the start. "With a half-mile to go I felt I was slowing down for about 200 meters, then I felt something else inside and picked it up. "

Brian Hancock ran sixth and Austin Dahlem seventh for Trinity's other top - 10 spots.