The Harlan County cross country teams captured big team wins at their own Chuck Vitatoe Classic on October 6, while the Harlan Green Dragons boasted strong individual showings.
The Lady Bears won the varsity team title, while the boys placed second to Letcher Central.
Harlan’s Ben Jones slipped past the Bears’ Steven Engle in the boys’ race for a ninth place finish at 19:22. Engle came in at 19:25 for tenth place.
A slew of Black Bears finished close together: Donavan Johnson (13th, 20:00), Josh Wynn (14th, 20:14), Caleb Justen (15th), Noah Hughes(17th, 20:33) Caleb Bailey (20th place, 21:13), and Steve Reed (22nd place, 21:38).
In girls’ varsity, Harlan County’s Kassie Rouse placed third at 22:34, followed by Breezy Epperson in sixth at 23:19; Cassidy Ball in seventh at 23:23; Jennifer Graham in ninth at 24:05; Lacey Stevens in 12th at 24:17; Arynn “Boo” Jackson at 25:14 for 15th place; and Miranda Epperson at 25:41 for 17th place.
Harlan’s Laura Pace finished in 16th place at 25:37.
In Junior Varsity boys, Nate Miller and Elijah McLendon placed second and third respectively, at 21:51 and 22:20. Joel Thomas kept pace in sixth place at 23:39, with Tim Witt in eighth place at 24:06.
Harlan County’s Sidney Kelly had a fourth place finish at 28:58 in girls’ JV, followed by teammate Jessica Hall in sixth at 30:34. Whitney Barger placed eighth at 32:53, with Summer Garrett in ninth at 34:42.
The Green Dragon Dynamic Duo of Andrew Mills and Mason Miller went one-two in the boys’ middle school 3K run with times of 9:20 and 9:40, with Black Bears Trent McKenzie in third at 10:17 and Kyle Middleton at 10:39 for fourth. Rounding out the field were Harlan County’s Alex Lewis (sixth place, 11:13) and Whitman Hopkins (eighth place, 15:37) and Harlan’s Billy Day (seventh place, 12:35).
Rebecca Middleton (12:40) and Allison Cornett (12:42), both of Harlan County, took the top two spots in the girls’ middle school race, followed by Ashton Gross of Harlan Independent at 14:31 and HC’s Bethany Day at 14:41.
In the elementary 1600 meter run, Green Dragons Jeremiah Mills paced the boys’ field at 7:57, followed by the Black Bears’ Drake Ward at 8:00. Harlan’s Story Miller followed in third, with HC runner Matthew Brown in fourth place. Ozzie Howard of Harlan came in fifth.
Katie Graham slipped past Madison Blanton for first place in girls’ elementary. Lady Bear Abby Vitatoe came in fourth, and Harlan’s Kaitlyn Farmer finished seventh.
The Chuck Vitatoe Classic is held in honor of Bears’ head coach Ryan Vitatoe’s father, who was an avid supporter of cross country and track programs in Harlan County. The Black Bears are set to host the Area 9 Championships on Oct. 13.
Harlan County swept the boys and girls races at the Southeastern Kentucky Conference Championship at Corbin on Friday.
Engle led the Black Bear boys in eighth place with a time of 19:19, followed closely by four of his teammates: Bailey in 10th place at 20:06; Wynn, 11th, 20:09; Johnson, 12th, 20:16; Hughes in 13th place at 20:25 and Justen in 15th place at 20:38. Reed rounded out the HCHS runners in 18th place at 20:59.
Rouse led the Lady Bear’s with a fourth place finish at 22:38. Breezy Epperson followed with a 22:43 time in 6th place, with Ball also in the top ten at 23:53 for 9th place. Stephens placed 12th at 24:53, and Graham finished at 26:09 for 18th place. Jackson finished 22nd at 26:51, and Miranda Epperson completed the HC charge with a 28th place finish at 27:51.
Harlan County will host the Area 9 championships on Oct. 13.