By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
Both the Highlands cross country teams expected to repeat as Class 2A, Region 4 champions.
One did and one just missed out. The Highlands girls ran away from field scoring 27 points outdistancing second-place Scott with 51 points. Highlands came into the season as heavy favorites to repeat as state champions.
“We just got Molly Mearns back from an injury,” said Brian Alessandro, Highlands Head Coach. “We knew we’d win with any of the five girls we put out there.”
Freshman Chloe Gastright finished second in the meet in 19 minutes, 30.2 seconds to Lexington Catholic freshman Michaela Reinhart in 18:44.8. Freshman Sydney Ossege finished fourth in 19:53.9. The other three Highlands scorers were eighth-grader Brianna Collins (sixth in 20:18.6), sophomore Lauren Ossege (seventh in 20:45.6) and Molly Mearns (eighth in 20:48.5).
The other two Highlands runners did not run far behind. Senior Frances Tracy finished 11th in 21:19.8 and eighth-grader Karsen Hunter took 12th in 21:35.1.
The Highlands and Covington Catholic boys placed their top five runners in the Top 10. The Colonels edged the Bluebirds, 27-28.
“It was like a dual meet,” Alessandro said. “That (two teams placing top five in top 10) almost never happens. (A wider number of teams) could be a huge difference in a big meet like that.”
Sophomore Ethan Shuley won the race for Highlands in 16:21.6 and senior John Michael Griffith followed in second in 16:39.8. After the Colonels took the next three spots, sophomore Geoffrey Mearns finished sixth in 17:19.2.
But CovCath took the next two places to take the win. Junior James Smith finished ninth for Highlands in 17:31.9 and sophomore Jackson Paul finished 10th in 17:33.1.
Sophomores Matt Gray and Will Backscheider also ran for Highlands. Gray finished 12th in 17:49.8 and Backsheider 17th in 18:09.8.
The region meet took place at Sherman Elementary in Dry Ridge. Grant County served as meet host.