HC’s record-breaking distance runner headed to LMU


John Henson

Harlan County High School senior Caleb Rigney signed with Lincoln Memorial University on Monday to continue her track career. Pictured with Vitatoe at the signing ceremony are his parents, Heather and Jack Rigney, as well as HCHS athletic director Eugene Farmer, HCHS assistant coach Arynn Johnson, HCHS Principal Kathy Minor, HCHS track coach Ryan Vitatoe and Harlan County Schools Superintendent Brent Roark.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

While looking ahead to his top distance runner’s future at Lincoln Memorial University, Harlan County track/cross country coach Ryan Vitatoe couldn’t help pay tribute to what Caleb Rigney had accomplished in his four-year run with the HCHS program.
“I’m very proud of Caleb and his opportunity to attend Lincoln Memorial. He has been such an important part of our program during his time and HC, and I knew the very first time I saw him run that he was going to be special,” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “He has turned in some of the fastest track times in the 1,600 and 800 that our county has ever seen and will graduate holding all distance records at HCHS. His legacy will speak for itself. Caleb’s attitude is one of the most impressive things about him. He’s had all this success in the last year, but he remains humble and grounded. He’s an excellent teammate and is as invested in the success of his peers as he is in himself, which is a trait that will serve him well at LMU. I have no doubt he’ll be successful and be a big part of their program’s success.”
Rigney has been a big part of Harlan County’s success since he arrived, setting school records in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, as well as the 4×800 relay team. He also has the all-time best time in the school’s cross country program and helped lead three teams to state competition.
“I have had a lot of success in my high school running career, but I’ve failed just as much if not more and I learned how to win from my losses,” Rigney said. “Coach (Vitatoe) and my parents have been instrumental in my success. Without them, I don’t think I’d be the runner or person I am today. I also think my friends have played a huge part in my success. They have made me look forward to practice and helped me continue to look forward in the hard parts of my career.”
Rigney is in the middle of a dominant senior season that has him ranked third in the state among 2A teams in both the 1,600-meter and 800-meter races. He hasn’t lost in the 1,600-meter race this season and has the 17th fastest mile team in the state in all classes.
Rigney will be competing on the Division II level at Lincoln Memorial University.
“I chose LMU because I felt like it gave me the best chance to succeed not only athletically but in my education as well,” he said. “The coaching staff and admission team there has been extremely helpful and helped me with the transition.”
“From the time Caleb stepped foot on campus, I could tell he belonged at LMU,” said coach Evan Darm. “His passion for the sport and drive to be the best is unmatched. He is someone who genuinely cares about his team getting better and as a coach I know we are getting a phenomenal student athlete. Caleb will be a difference maker at LMU.”