Simpson, Daniels lead HCHS in middle school state competition


By Abby Sherman, Contributing Writer

Jaycee Simpson and Tanner Daniels completed impressive elementary and middle school seasons, respectively, with one more outstanding showing Saturday at the Kentucky Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Meet of Champions on Saturday at Bourbon County.
Simpson and Daniels both garnered top 10 finishes in crowded fields at the state championship meet.
“We are so proud of our elementary and middle school teams for their performances at the state championships this weekend. What a great way to wrap their season, with nearly every single athlete who attended running a PR on a tough course. That says a lot about their mindset coming into the meet, and their level of competitiveness. It’s been a real joy to watch that develop in our kids throughout the season.” Vitatoe said. “I want to commend Jennifer Brock, Baili Bailey and Miranda Epperson for their work with those kiddos.”
Simpson led Harlan County in the girls 6th and under middle school open division race, finishing fourth overall with a time of 13:14.62. Alice Gross (21:15.02) finished 94th.
In the boys 6th and under open division race, Nathan Barger finished 42nd with a time of 13:57.99. Jacob Brock (65th) finished with a time of 14:58.79. Jayden Sargent (17:12.52) placed 99th.
Hutton Sherman led Harlan County in the boys 4th and under open division race, placing 11th overall with a time of 8:19.76. Eli Barger (43rd) finished with a time of 8:53.98, while Zakk Collins (10:18.66) placed 153rd. Rounding out the results for HC were Jonah Sargent (172nd, 10:33.51), Hunter Evans (204th, 11:03.14), Jase Sargent (271st, 12:43.22), Jordan Sargent (282nd, 13:18.77), Hunter Asher (294th, 13:42.47) and Brayden Perkins (301st, 14:50.66).
Anna Gross (9:38.22) finished 46th in the girls 4th and under open division race. Ella Brock placed 112th with a time of 10:35.99. Nevaeh Perkins (11:35.93) finished 170th. Rounding out the results for Harlan County were Paisleigh Asher (217th, 12:53.49) and Nevaeh Stone (251st, 15:38.66).
“Anytime you can bring a medal home from a state championship, it’s a big deal, so for us to get so many with hardware is a great accomplishment. So I’m really proud of Nathan and Eli Barger, Hutton Sherman, and Anna for accomplishing that! Also, finishing in the top five is incredible, and I’m so proud of Jaycee.” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “All these kids who competed today have a great future in the sport.”
Daniels led Harlan County in the boys middle school race, finishing fifth overall with a time of 14:16.98. Luther Gross (16:37.56) finished 115th, while Drew Sargent (17:05.04) placed 155th. Xavier Farley placed 112th with a time of 19:40.55 in the boys middle school open division race.
“Our middle school kids ran great as well. Tanner had a fantastic race, and really battled some older guys for the state title. He’s been fantastic this season, and I’m really proud of him.” Vitatoe said. “This sets him up for something special at this level next season.”
Gracie Roberts (19:44.77) finished 37th in the girls middle school race. Kiera Roberts (64th) finished with a time of 21:15.44, while Autumn Farley finished 74th with a time of 22:41.94.
“Gracie had a great race, earning herself a medal. She’s also had a great season, but all these middle school kids have been fantastic this year.” Vitatoe said. “So many of them are in their first season and the growth has been tremendous. I’m really proud of them.”
Harlan County’s varsity squads will compete in the Class 2A, Region 5 championship meet Saturday at Cave Lake in Wayne County.
Harlan competed in the Cave Lake Fall Classic Saturday at Wayne County. Harlan’s girls varsity placed fourth overall.
Harper Carmical finished 10th overall with a time of 23:29.44, leading Harlan in the girls race. Chloe Schwenke placed 19th with a time of 24:52.15. Mia Pace (33rd) and Abbigaile Jones (34th) finished with times of 26:18.82 and 26:21.40, respectively. Rounding out the results for Harlan were Halle Cox (48th, 27:42.51) and Juliana Damaa (65th, 30:33.82).
Brayden Howard led Harlan in the boys race, finishing 71st with a time of 22:01.82. Evan Bargo (23:20.92) placed 79th. Sayed Damaa (27:10.38) and Connor Collins (27:47.39) placed 109th and 112th, respectively. Rounding out the results for the Dragons were Seth Coogle (119th, 30:58.72) and Michael Lindsey (121st, 32:15.60).
Harlan returns to action Saturday in the Class A, Region 6 championship at Wayne County.