KHSAA Class 3-A State Cross Country Championships: Dowdy wins boys' championship, OC and South girls finish top 10

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Dragons finish second to St. X

By Elliott Pratt

 LEXINGTON – Cole Dowdy could hear his coach yelling at him heading into the last half mile. South Oldham coach Stan Clark is a man of few words, and in that moment in time, a few words is all Dowdy needed to make the final push.


“Coming through the second paddock, he screamed to Tanner and I, ‘This is your moment. This is your moment,’ It really pumped me up.” Dowdy said.

In record time, Cole captured his moment.

The South Oldham senior won the KHSAA Class 3-A Boys’ State Cross Country Championship in 15:20.38, a course record, to help the Dragons earn a runner-up spot in the team standings.

Tanner Dowdy finished third as he and Cole, much like they had done all year, were neck-and-neck heading into the final half mile until Tanner tightened up in the final uphill stretch.

“I saw him saw Tanner with a chance at second and said, ‘This is the moment you dream of, and dreams happen.’” Clark said. “Cole took his moment and he commanded it. His finish was awesome. He earned it and I’m happy for him.”

Dowdy’s time was one second faster than the course record set by Jacob Thomson (Holy Cross) in 2012 since the current course was put in place at Kentucky Horse Park in 2009.

“I found myself in the lead with a half mile to go and everything felt surreal,” Cole said. “One of the main reasons I love this course is right when you finish, you have an area where the whole crowd and teammates and fans gather. You’re pounded with all the support and love. The footing is slightly uphill and it’s tough. You have to stay in it. I was thinking about my teammates, parents and family.”

As a team, South totaled 87 points as St. Xavier dominated to win with 37. South won the championship by one point over St. X last year. The Tigers placed four runners in the top 10.

Brennan Fields of Madison Central passed Tanner Dowdy in the final meters to finish two seconds ahead in second place.

“I knew if I tightened up, here is where I want to do it,” Tanner said. “I know I left it all out and that last half mile, I knew Cole was going to get it. Into the turn it got flat and then started going uphill and I got those jello legs. To get third my senior year and see (Cole) win it, you can’t complain.”

Fields will join the Dowdy twins next year on the University of Kentucky cross country team, making this year a 1-2-3 finish for the future Wildcats.

Senior Hayden Tinal placed 14th , and joined the Dowdys on the All-State team.  Aidan Skeeters finished 33rd and Joseph Brown finished 37th for South, which graduates its top five runners from this year.

“We’ll be rebuilding for a while,” Clark said. “We’re not going to be able to reload. You have to get a special group together and bring them along. You get moments and that’s all you get. If we get a special group, we can compete.”

Oldham County boys finished 14th with sophomore Garrett Hadaway leading the Colonels with a 53rd place finish.

Hadaway started the year out as the No. 8 runner and worked his way up through the year to the No. 1 spot. His first race this season was in 19:10, and he clocked in at 16:52.39 at state.

“To have a guy come up like that is unheard of,” coach Kirk Thomas said. “Last year we didn’t even qualify for state. That was our main goal to just get here. To get 14th, we expected somewhere around 12th for a great day and around 16 or 17 for an off day. We were about where we thought we would be.”

On the girls side, the Lady Colonels placed sixth and South Oldham finished eighth. Lady Dragons junior Hallie Searcy finished 21st in 19:31.62.

Oldham County had four girls finish under 20 minutes in the top 50 and was led by senior Samantha Griffin in 24th, marking her best state finish and a PR (19:33.52). Sophomore Rachel Gibson finished 27th, Evelyn Constant finished 45th and junior Riley Glenn placed 47th.

“The girls ran as good as they can run today,” Thomas said. “Four under 20 is the first time that’s ever happened for us at state. That was big. We were happy with Samantha Griffin going out as a senior with an all-time PR in her last race at state. That’s what you want to see.”

South Oldham’s eighth place finish (254 points) trailed seventh-place DuPont Manual by 12 points as OC finished sixth with 204 points.

Along with Searcy, sophomore Jerrica Hanson (43rd, 19:52.58) and junior Haley Webb (47th, 19:56.45) placed in the top 50.

“We wanted to get OC,” Clark said. “They really brought it today. I wish we had been a little closer to them. We had really good performances.”