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Muddy course bogs down Falcons cross country runners at state

Heather Huber

The Courier
Fort Campbell | November 9, 2017

The Fort Campbell Falcons took a cross  country team of seven boys and one girl to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association State Meet Saturday in Lexington, Kentucky, and came home ranked 27th in the state.

“They did really good, I’m proud of them,” said Vicky Gibson, cross country head coach.

The boys team finished second at Regional Class AA meet Oct. 28 at Marshall County High School – securing a place for the team at state. The girls team did not qualify, ranking fifth at regionals, but Maddison Ruggles, senior, scored high enough to qualify as an individual runner.

Gabe Gamez, junior, had to be pulled from the Falcons lineup before the state meet because he was injured during regionals. Alternate Joshua Murphy, freshman, ran in his place.

Only the top seven runners on a team participate in the race, but there are two alternates who train as well to be on standby.

“The boys had to make up that space and they did a good job of that,” Gibson said. “[Murphy] wasn’t expecting to run, so he came and he did well and he listened. The team as a whole has a great dynamic, they did a wonderful job and we’re super proud of them.”

Gibson said she knew even with a hurt runner, the team would give their all. The team spent last week working to keep their stamina up.

“We did amazing at regionals,” she said. “They had it. They just needed to keep [their performance] for another week.”

Although he did not expect to run after his performance at regionals, Murphy said he was happy he got the chance to step up for his team.

“I did want to go. I wanted the chance to run,” he said.

Although Murphy rated his time of 21:19.35 as only OK, he was pleased with how his teammates ran.

“I wasn’t really expecting us to win state, obviously because there are a lot better teams, but I think we did well,” he said. “I was expecting a little bit shorter of a time [personally], but I really hadn’t seen the course and it was pretty muddy, but I did well.”

Rafael Cerritos, sophomore, was the top Fort Campbell runner at state, finishing the Boys 5K Run with a time of 18:51.85.

“It wasn’t my best time of the year, but it wasn’t the worst, so I was right in the middle,” Cerritos said. “I feel like I could have done a little better. The course was kind of muddy and there was a lot of hills, so I think if we work at it some more I could have done better.”

Cerritos said he is going to work on his weaknesses during the off season so he can run better next year. He is proud of his team’s performance as well.

“Since we’re a pretty young team and pretty small, I feel like we did pretty good,” he said. “We have good runners but they’re not as strong because they haven’t run before. For some people this is their first time running, so overall I think we did pretty good.”

This is the third year Cerritos has gotten to represent Fort Campbell at the state meet.

“I really enjoy it because it’s not an everyday thing where you get to go to a state competition and run, or a state competition in any event,” he said.

Cerritos tries to enjoy himself while still helping to lead his newer teammates.

“You have to have fun when you’re running,” he said.

Alec Vaughn, sophomore, finished just behind Cerritos with a time of 19:57.17. “I think I did pretty well,” Vaughn said. “It was pretty fun. I was able to [go to state] last year, but still every year it’s new.”

Vaughn said something that helped him keep pace this year was being able to hear music playing throughout the entire course.

Tyler Mickley, freshman, finished with a time of 20:39.73.

“I think I did alright. I could have done better,” Mickley said.

He plans to add a daily 2-mile run to his regiment before next season in order to be in better condition for the state meet next year.

He is proud of the way his team ran in the meet.

“Everyone put forth their maximum effort and tried as hard as they could and that’s all we can ask,” Mickley said.

This year was the first time Mickley raced in the state meet.

“It was a good experience,” he said. “Everyone was going really really hard at it. It was admirable. Everyone put forth their hardest work and effort.”

Mickley said it is an honor to represent Fort Campbell at state.

This year also was the first time William DeShazo, sophomore, competed at state.

“I thought I did OK, I could have done better,” he said. “I could have run faster, but I haven’t run the course before.”

DeShazo finished the course in 20:11.48 minutes.

“It felt pretty good, honestly,” he said. “It was kind of an honor [to represent Fort Campbell].”

Maddison Ruggles, senior, was the only girl to qualify at regionals for state. She represented Fort Campbell at state as an individual runner for the first time in her high school career. She finished the girls’ 5K race in 140th place with a time of 23:28.57.

“She did a really good job,” Gibson said. “It’s hard [when] you’re out there by yourself – she was in lane three with three other schools that only one or two kids qualified. So it’s different when you’re not with your team. She was successful in her own race. She did great.”

Gibson said she is letting the runners have a couple of weeks off, but at the banquet in a few weeks she plans to give them an exercise routine to keep in shape and improve for next season.

“I had a great group of kids this year,” Gibson said. “They tried their hardest. They listened. On top of all that they kept their grades up. I didn’t really have any troubles with them. They’re great kids. I’m super proud of them.”

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