Green Dragons place seventh at regional meet

A year of successful growth for the Harlan High School cross country squad came to a close Saturday at the Class A Region 6 championship meet in Wayne County.

Frigid temperatures and a soggy course hindered the Dragons, who came up short of their goal of sending a full team to state for the first time since 2011.

“We tried to avoid peaking too early this season, and I think we accomplished that,” Harlan coach Tara Bryson said. “I was really happy with where we were going into region. I didn’t prepare them for the mental aspects of running, especially for the cold weather. The thing that shocked us the most was the cold; we had only had one race all year with cool weather.”

Harlan fielded a full boys varsity team for the first time in six years, but missed qualifying with a seventh-place finish. The group hadn’t had all five runners on the starting line at any point during the regular season.

“I think we were at a real disadvantage having not run as a team. Some of our runners didn’t understand the team scoring because they had never done it,” Bryson said.

Junior Tate Bryson was the Dragons’ top finisher, coming in 26th with a time of 20:29.95. Rounding out Harlan’s results were Story Miller (32nd, 21:07.58), Jackson Huff (36th, 21:25.49), Jeremiah Mills (46th, 22:22.14) and Charles David Morton (57th, 22:48.36).

Jackson County won the regional title, defeating Williamsburg by 10 points. Somerset came in third, followed by Lee County and Owsley County.

Wolfe County’s Nathan Landsaw was the individual champion with a time of 18:18.25, defeating Middlesboro’s Ozzy Norris by 20 seconds.

On the girls side, Lucy Bryson came up short in her bid to qualify for state for the second consecutive year. The sophomore finished 15th with a time of 25:13.49. Ella Morton (27:06.20), a freshman, came in 24th.

Middlesboro edged Williamsburg by five points, with five runners in the top 10, to end Williamsburg’s streak of regional titles at two. Middlesboro was led by eighth-grader Mallory James, who came in second with a time of 21:27.35.

Williamsburg junior Selena Mattingly was the individual winner for the fifth straight year, posting a time of 20:38.06.

Bryson is optimistic about the direction the team is heading.

“We don’t have any seniors, and I hope we can get back next year,” she said. “We can take the things we’ve learned from this year and build on them.”