Lunsford takes first in HCHS race; Bell’s Miracle wins boys race


Harlan County eighth-grader Peyton Lunsford, pictured in action earlier this season, placed 42nd out of 215 runners in the Class 2A state meet.

After a breakout season as a seventh-grader last year, Harlan County’s Peyton Lunsford won’t catch anyone by surprise this fall. That’s one reason why not many were surprised when Lunsford crossed the finish line first Tuesday in the Harlan County All Comers Meet with a time of 23:07.97.
“Peyton ran a great race today. We had a strategy coming in and she ran it to perfection, which speaks a lot to her growth as a runner in the last year,” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said.
Middlesboro won the team competition with 25 points, placing four in the top eight. Harlan County was second with 52 points, followed by Lynn Camp with 63 points and Letcher Central with 81.

“I am blessed to coach great kids. Our boys and girls teams both ran well tonight,” Middlesboro coach Luke Gilly said. “Our conditioning is improving and I’m always impressed with their competitiveness and grit during a race.”
Mallory James, of Middlesboro, was second with a time of 23:43.03. Teammate Grace Rose was third at 23:59.88. Katelyn Delk and Kennadi Larew were seventh and eighth, respectively Kirsten Keith and Hannah Fleet were 12th and 13th, respectively. Kamryn Keith was 29th.
Cadence Ferguson had the second best finish for HCHS in 11th place. She was followed by Olivia Kelly (15th), Caitlin Rice (23rd), Lainey Garrett (27th) and Abby Vitatoe (33rd).
“I thought the girls ran well overall despite being without Leah (Taulbee) and Riley (Key),” Vitatoe said. “They battled the entire race. Middlesboro is a great team.”
Ella Morton led Harlan as she finished ninth. Mia Pace was 19th and Haylee Couch was 31st.
Heather Crawford led Letcher Central by finishing 14th, followed by Hope Roark (18th), Abby Little (24th), Abigail McDougal (25th), Emilee Jensen (30th) and Grace McDougal (32nd).
“In this being our first showing of the year, we looked forward to setting the first block in the foundation of a strange season,” Letcher Central coach Winston Lee said “ In reflecting, it was a solid start given our circumstances. The plan is to now continue to build up as we hope to develop a more consistent routine and schedule. See a lot of potential in younger athletes that have joined the program this fall. I’m looking forward to a great season and truly appreciate HC’s willingness to host.”
Sophy Jones led Bell County, finishing sixth with a time of 25:44.63. Kaylin Hickey was 16th.
“We didn’t have a full team today due to injury but the girls raced hard tonight,” Bell County coach Jason Stewart said. “Sophy Jones ran well, finishing sixth place. She’s new to distance running but doing very well so far. Kaylin Hickey is also working hard and improving. Hopefully, by region, they’ll be healthy and ready to go.”
Three days after a fourth-place finish at Lynn Camp, the Bell County Bobcats found the right formula Tuesday in the Harlan County All Comers Meet by claiming three of the top four spots to win the team title with 39 points.
Caden Miracle, a sophomore, was the individual winner with a time of 17:51.97. Nicholas Stewart, a seventh-grader, was third at 19:42.94, followed by senior Jacob Robbins in fourth at 19:43.24. James Arno, Hayden Green and Isaac Lefevers took the 13th, 14th and 15th spots, respectively. Lucas Miracle rounded out the top 20.
“I was very pleased with how my guys ran today,” Stewart said. “Caden came out hard and set the pace early cruising to a victory. I thought Nickel and Jacob really stepped up and had big races finishing third and fourth. All of the guys brought it. It’s still a long time until eegion though, so they have to stay focused and keep improving week to week.”
Harlan County finished second as a team with 37 points, led by Caleb Brock in second with a 18:44.38. Daniel Joseph was fifth at 20:12.94. Matt Yeary and Lucas Epperson finished 11th and 12th, respectively. Austin Crain and Cooper McHargue placed 17th and 18th, respectively, while Kyle Farley was 21st, followed by Breydy Daniels (25th), Andrew Yeary (26th) and Kaden Boggs (28th).
“I thought the boys were good, but we didn’t match Bell’s intensity and that was the difference,” Vitatoe said. :I think they all ran well, and it was a good step in the right direction despite not coming away with a win. I tip my cap to Bell. They were fired up and ready. It’s a challenge right now finding the right balance for training with being so far behind. We are going to keep working, stay positive and focus on lifting each other up. That will be key to progressing toward our goals for October.”
Middlesboro was third in the team standings with 67 points, led by Ozzy Norris and Brendan Delph in ninth and 10th, respectively. Trevor Raney was 23rd, Drew Martin was 24th and Caleb Brock was 29th.
Javier Polly and Grant Barto led Letcher Central, finishing seventh and eighth, respectively, with times of 20:37.32 and 20:40.34. Nathan Kiser was 32nd and Andrew Little finished 33rd.
Tristen Cornett (30th) and Ethan Farley (34th) represented Harlan in the race.
Bell County’s Nathan Miracle and Braydin Hickey finished first and second, respectively, in the boys junior varsity race. Harlan County’s Tanner Daniels was third. Bell’s Reese Arno and Elijah Hampton rounded out the top five. Harlan County’s DaShaun Smith was sixth, followed by Noah Stewart and Landon Eldridge, of Bell County. Conner Mabe and Clayton White, both of Lynn Camp, rounded out the top 10.
Lynn Camp’s Laren Partin rounded out the girls junior varsity race. Katie Combs and Kandace Collins, both of Letcher Central, and Lily Nolan and Sara Saylor, both of Bell County rounded out the top five. Letcher Central’s Mackenzie Nantz, Isabella Swanson and Covia Isaac, of Letcher Central, took the next three spots, with Harlan County’s Kaydie Coots placing ninth.

Bell County sophomore Caden Miracle was the winner in the meet Thursday at Harlan County High School.


Harlan’s Ella Morton was ninth on Tuesday in a race at the Harlan County High School course.