- Special Sections
- Public Notices
As July 14 became July 15, the Grant County cross-country teams were off and running.
The team began their practice at midnight, the first date that Kentucky High School Athletic Association allows fall sports to practice. The team ran under the lights at the Grant County High School track, competing in their first team time trials of the season.
The boys’ team returns several runners. The team will be led by senior Shannon Fabela, the only senior on this year’s team.
“I think we’re going to be good,” Fabela said. “I’m excited for the season to start. We’re going to have to start working harder to go to state as a team again. As a senior, I’m going to work harder than I have the past three years. I like to get everyone pumped up.”
“Shannon’s got a wonderful personality and he’s a go-getter. I’m going to expect leadership from him, not only on the course,” coach Marlon Kinsey said. “Being a member of a state-qualifying team for the past two years, he needs to use that experience to help lead.”
Kinsey wasn’t sure if Chris Ellis would return after Ellis’ father took a job in Virginia, but Ellis will compete for the Braves as long as he can.
“We’re going to try to stay for the season,” Ellis said. “It means a lot, because this could be my last season here.”
“He was a big part of our success last year,” Kinsey said. “Life and the economy hit everywhere. It can impact families and sports teams, but it’s great to have him back.”
Juniors Jordan Cummins, Michael Schultz and Dylan Jackson, along with sophomore Tyler Edmondson, return with varsity experience.
Sophomore Michael Haubner could also join the team full-time after splitting last season between the football team and the cross-country team.
“He’ll be a real big plus that the region won’t know about,” Kinsey said. “He’s a tough competitor that gives us everything he’s got.”
The boys’ team finished 17th at state last year, but are hoping to improve, starting with their summer workouts.
“I want the boys to realize they are starting to be noticed and earn respect, but it’s time for us to show that we deserve that respect,” Kinsey said. “We want to give Conner a run for the region title. The work we’re doing now will make the difference.”
With the depth of the team, the boys push each other to get better.
“We have to move people toward the front of the race and we’ve got to have some guys under 17 minutes this year,” Kinsey said. “This group has the talent and I know that we’re going to do the quality and quantity of workouts. It’s going to take some mental toughness. We’re establishing a tradition and I want that to weigh on their hearts and their minds. I want that tradition to become a legacy. I want us to become a great team.”
While the boys hope for a return to the state meet, the girls team is working towards their goal of qualifying for the state meet.
“Last year, I took over the girls’ team 10 days into training,” Kinsey said. “This year, I’ve been able to recruit for the girls’ team. There are already several new runners on the team and a big thing is getting Rebekah Brewer back to compete.”
Brewer tore her ACL in her right knee. She was disappointed when doctors didn’t clear her to run last season, but hopes to help the team this season.
“They say it takes about a year, year and a half and it’s been a year,” Brewer said. “I’m hoping that I can show the younger girls they can be as good as they want to be. We’re going to have to work hard and pull together. It was hard to watch the girls I love running with wear the uniform I love to wear last year. I learned determination by not competing. I’ve slacked before, but you race like you practice and we can’t slack this year.”
When Kinsey first took over the program last year, there were four girls who showed up for the first meeting. This year, he hopes to get 20 girls into the program.
“Getting numbers is the first thing,” Kinsey said. “We had some talented girls, but they were sixth graders and ineligible to run. This year, we’ll have some more depth and that will help the competition level.”
Kara Pennington returns as a senior.
“I’m going to be calling on Kara to be a leader this year,” Kinsey said. “She’s probably put in as much work as any of the athletes this off-season. I challenged her at the end of the season, telling her I needed her to be a transformed individual, She took that to heart and she’s gotten fit and worked hard.”
Junior Riley Colson joins her sister, eighth grader Courtney Colson, on the team. Senior Jackie Roche were part of the team two years ago and rejoin the team after a year off.
“They’ve got an energy about them,” Kinsey said. “They’ve got the potential to help us. We always want to move up in the region. We’re going to be inexperienced, but we’re setting a goal of qualifying for state. I’m confident we’re going to be better than last year.”
Seventh graders Destiny and Katelyn Simons were the first girls to finish at the midnight time trials.
“I think they’ve shown they’ll be excellent in cross country,” Kinsey said. “They want to be good. As long as they do what they’re supposed to do, I see them contributing at the middle school and at the higher level.”