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KHSAA Class 3A Track and Field Championships: Cole Dowdy wins state title in 3,200 run for South

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By Elliott Pratt

 LEXINGTON – All Cole Dowdy could think about in the last 150 meters of the 3,200 meter run at the state meet was everything and everyone who helped him reach that point.

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He admitted it’s cliché to think such a thing with a championship on the line, but the shoe was a perfect fit.

Dowdy, with his twin brother Tanner only a few meters behind him, broke away from Cooper’s Zachary Stewart down the final stretch to win the 3,200 in 9:15.74 for his first individual state championship at the KHSAA Class 3A Track and Field Championships at the University of Kentucky’s Outdoor Track and Field Complex Saturday.

Tanner finished fourth, one position better than last year’s fifth-place spot as Cole placed third in 2014. The state championship marks the second for the year for Dowdy after helping South Oldham’s cross country team earn a state crown in the fall.

“So much goes through your head and it really wraps up the season perfectly and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Cole said. “South Oldham is a great place to run for and it all went through my head and it really propelled me to the finish.”

Cole crossed the finish line two seconds before Stewart, raised his arms in celebration staring right at his family in the stands in front of him, some who had traveled as far as Fairhope, Alabama to watch the twins go for a second state titles in one year.

Standing with his hands on his hips catching his breath from what he described as mentally the toughest race he’s ever ran, he watched his twin brother cross the line fourth in 9:28.86.

“Obviously the goal is to go 1-2, but to have two in the top four after cross country is something I wouldn’t trade,” Tanner said. “With 200 (meters) to go and I’m trying to track down the runner and I see my brother up there in a dog fight. It motivates me.”

Between the Dowdy’s, Stewart, and familiar Region 4 opponent Vince Turner from Trinity, it was a four-man race from the start. St. Xavier’s Andrew Garvey finished fifth and five seconds behind Tanner. The sixth place spot came 10 seconds behind fifth.

Tanner was the first to drift from the pack while still maintaining a comfortable lead on the field. Stewart got an edge on Cole coming out of the final lap with the two battling neck-and-neck until the final 200 meters when Cole’s kick, a trait he rarely displays, won the junior a state championship.

“I knew if we were both on that it could realistically come down to me and (Stewart) and a couple of other guys,” Cole said. “At the final lap he surged and I matched him. It’s funny, I don’t pride myself on my kick that much. My first state title I won with a 150 meter kick. It was really exciting and ironic.”

Cole’s first place finish earned South Oldham 10 points and Tanner’s fourth-place position gave the Dragons five. The South boys team finished 12th in team points with 17. Henry Clay boys finished first in team standings (93 points) followed by Bryan Station (58) and Paul Laurence Dunbar (49).

Senior Justin Hanson earned two points for South with a seventh-place finish in the 1,600-run in 4:25.17, but couldn’t keep up with the field in the 800-run with a 18th place result in a field that Hanson knew was going to be a challenge unlike anything he had ever seen in more ways than one.

Hanson moved to South from Minnesota, won a title with the cross country team and breezed through his two events at the regional meet.

“All the competition in the state is right here,” Hanson said. “I still don’t think I’m used to the humidity. We have nothing like that in Minnesota…the last couple of weeks have been hot and I got used to that a little bit. I don’t do quite as well in that, but I’m not going to hide behind the weather. All of those ahead of me deserved to be ahead of me.”

Sophomore Aaron Brooking placed 17th in the 400-dash and joined Hanson along with Dyllon Hoover and Jared Sanford in the 4x400 relay for a 19th place finish.

Sophomore Hallie Searcy highlighted the girls team with all five of its points in the 3,200-run, finishing fourth in 11:34.19.  Searcy knew before the race that maintaining her position was the best way to achieve her desired results.

“I knew there were going to be a few girls packing in the front right there and I wanted to stay with them,” Searcy said. “I managed to do that for the most part and I was fine at the end and I was able to get a PR out of it so I’m happy.”

Searcy also ran in the 4x800 with Kassidy Orrender, Haley Webb and Jerrica Hanson for a 14th place finish at 10:25.57.

Erin Wilson won the first heat of the 300-hurdles in 48.86 seconds, but was outshined in the final two heats and finished 14th. South girls placed 30th in team points while Bryan Station received first with 65 points followed by North Hardin (57 points) and a tie for third between Male and Sacred Heart Academy (44 points).