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Oldham County chasing state title defense

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By Sam Draut

A state title defense is on everyone’s mind, but the pressure isn’t.

After winning the Class 3-A state championship last fall, Oldham County girls cross country has plenty of proven talent back to defend its state title. The Lady Colonels claimed their first state championship since 1992 with all five scoring runners finishing in the top-20 at last year’s state meet.

Savannah Cagle (sixth), Jacquelyn Ellsworth (12th) and Ashley Terry (20th) are back as state scorers on a team that coach Kirk Thomas has tried to keep away any pressure that comes along with repeating a state championship.

“We knew we would have a talented team coming back this year,” Thomas said. “That’s in their minds, but we try to keep the pressure off them.”

Thomas wants pack running as usual, and he should have the team to do it.

“In our training workouts we have had six or seven girls that really pack together and stay tight,” Thomas said. “I wouldn’t be shocked if anyone of our top seven, the way they are running right now could be number one on any given day. Our number-one could be number-seven the next week.”

Ella Henage placed 31st as a freshman at the state meet last fall. Hannah Henage returns for her senior season in good health. Chloe Boa, who became a scoring runner toward the end of last season, has become a better runner.

“She [Boa] has stepped up from last year,” Ellsworth said.

Grace Wayland, a freshman that Thomas says has jumped into the varsity pack, and several sophomores are vying to contribute.

“We were all in that spot,” Ellsworth said. “We like it because it pushes us harder and comes closer as a team.”

In his 16th season, Thomas said having all seven runners competing at their current level is special. He hopes they can take advantage of the chance to train and race together.

“They just need to realize that it’s a great opportunity and a really unique situation,” Thomas said. “It’s not very often a team gets a chance like this.”

Cagle admitted that the team thinks about the state meet in November, but that won’t get in the way of improving in the mean time.

“We want to take every race one at a time so we keep building up to get stronger for state,” Cagle said.