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Their high school careers could have ended at the state meet, but several Grant County High School cross country runners decided to lengthen their careers with two races.
On Nov. 22, Natalie Norman, Jeffrey Covington, Brandon McIntosh and Aaron Jump raced in the KTCCCA Senior Challenge, held at Masterson Station Park in Lexington.
Norman was selected to represent the North team as one of the top seniors in the region. She proved her worth, coming in third overall and second for the North. Her performance helped the North take first place in the competition.
“Natalie, following an outstanding state meet performance, still had her ultimate goal of breaking 20 minutes in her mind,” coach Marlon Kinsey said. “She still had the mindset that she could improve on her state performance.”
Although she ran on a tougher course, Norman set a new school record for the second week in a row, with a time of 20:05.66.
“She put the hammer down and was happy to set the school record, but still wanted to do better,” Kinsey said.
“It was really exciting,” Norman said. “I felt really accomplished because, even though it was a small race, there were still a lot of good runners. It’s kind of bittersweet because you’re really close to breaking the 20-minute barrier, but it was still nice. Being my last race, it’s the mark I get to leave on the school.”
Covington was not selected to the team, but decided to run to prove that he should have been. Only 10 seniors per region were selected and Covington placed ahead of two of the runners who made the team and finished 23rd.
“It was pretty good,” Covington said. “There was a lot of good competition. I beat a lot of people I didn’t beat at state so that made me feel pretty good. I knew I wanted to prove I had a bad race at state and I could step it up.”
“Jeffrey wanted to prove that he should have been named to the team,” Kinsey said. “He felt snubbed and ran with a chip on his shoulder.”
McIntosh and Jump also ran, continuing their seasons for one more race.
“It was pretty hard,” McIntosh said. “The weather was pretty tough and I was kind of out of shape. I just wanted to keep running.”
“It was fun, but it was cold,” Jump said. “It was a good way to finish off the year.”
Covington and Norman still had one race left, as they were selected for the Cross Country Coaches National Youth Championships held on Dec. 6 in West Chester, Ohio. They ran as part of a select club for Team Kentucky.
Covington was the top runner for Team Kentucky, finishing 23rd overall. Norman also finished 23rd.
“I hate to see their careers come to an end, but they are going to try to etch their names in to the record books during track season,” Kinsey said.