HCHS boys take first, girls place second at Bobcat Invitational


Harlan County won the Bell County Invitational on Tuesday. Team members include, from left: Andrew Yeary, Jacob Schwenke, Breydy Daniels, Matthew Yeary, Daniel Joseph, Lucas Epperson, Kaden Boggs and Austin Crain.

It was a great two days for Harlan County teams in the Bobcat Invitational at Bell County High School.
The HCHS boys took first and the girls were second in the varsity division. The Harlan High School girls won the elementary division race, while the Harlan County boys were second. The Harlan girls were second in the middle school race and the Harlan County boys were third.
“I’m proud of all our kids. This was a unique experience with a two-day meet, and we had a lot of fun with it. Our elementary and middle school kids had great races on Monday, and our high school kids ran great tonight,” said Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe.
The Harlan County boys finished with 21 points in the varsity race, while North Laurel was second with 40 points and Williamsburg was third with 73 points.
HCHS senior Daniel Joseph was the individual champion with a time of 18:56.22. Harlan County senior Matt Yeary was fourth, with Andrew Yeary, Lucas Epperson, Kaden Boggs and Jacob Schwenke taking the eighth through 11th spots.
“I thought both teams battled hard. I love how the boys work together,” Vitatoe said. “Daniel is really coming into his own this season and hitting where I knew he was capable of being. Matt is doing a tremendous job, and Lucas does a great job working with and moving our pack. That type of senior leadership is invaluable. These guys are battle-tested, and they do a great job of setting the example for the younger guys. We still have a lot of work to do, but when you open your season with two wins in the first three meets, that’s a great start. I feel really good about how these boys will continue to develop. Again, North is a very solid program that advances to state yearly out of 3A7, so getting a win over them is big. Bell is also a tremendous program that was runner-up in our region last year. They were missing some guys tonight, so we have a lot of hard work ahead of us to hit our goals.”
North Laurel, led by individual champion Taylor Allen, won the girls race with 28 points. Harlan County was second with 42 points and Williamsburg was third with 54 points.
Peyton Lunsford, a freshman, led HCHS as she finished second with a time of 23:38.23. Another HCHS freshman, Sophie Day, was ninth. Kendall Brock, Summe Farley and Olivia Kelly finished in the 10th through 12th spots.
“I was pleased with our girls, especially when you consider we were down four girls tonight. They fought hard and really battled North Laurel for a good portion of the race. North has a tremendous team that is among the favorites in the 3A7 region, and there’s no shame (at this point) in falling short,” Vitatoe said. “This was a great experience for these girls. Who knows how this season will play out with everything surrounding COVID, so we all have to be ready at all times for whatever lies ahead. They did a tremendous job and I’m proud of them. We have a long way to go on the girl’s side as well, but again, this group works together so well. There’s no negativity, they all support each other, and they work hard. Good things will come from that.”
Harlan eighth-grader Dylan Cox won the middle school race with a time of 12:19.79. Harlan County’s DaShaun Smith was fourth, with Luther Gross fifth, Xavier Farley seventh and Braxton Crain ninth.
Harlan County’s Tanner Daniels was first in the elementary school boys race with a time of 7:35.61. Harlan’s Cooper Thomas placed fifth.
Harlan’s Zoe Lawson won the elementary school girls race at 9:58.70. Harlan’s Chloe Brock was fourth and Cora Jones was fifth. Harlan County’s Anna Gross and Ella Brock placed ninth and 10th, respectively.
Harlan won the team title with 34 points, one ahead of Lay and 17 ahead of Harlan County.


The Harlan County girls placed third in the Lynn Camp Invitational on Saturday, finishing with 69 points. North Laurel won the race with 35 points, followed by Corbin with 49. Lynn Camp was fourth, followed by Williamsburg, Whitley County, South Laurel and Harlan.
Lunsford led the Lady Bears as she placed third. Riley Key, Brock and Day finished 14th through 16th, Mia Pace led Harlan as she finished 17th. North Laurel’s Allen won the race.
The HCHS boys were also third with 84 points, two behind second place Bell County. Corbin won with 29 points. North Laurel was fourth, followed by South Laurel, Whitley County and Williamsburg.
Joseph led Harlan County as he placed seventh. Bell County’s Conner Miracle was the individual winner.
Cox was second in the boys middle school race. Smith and Gross led HCHS as they finished 11th and 12th, respectively.
Harlan’s Carmical was second in the girls elementary school race. Harlan County’s Daniels won the boys elementary school race, while Trey Creech placed eighth.