HCHS moving to 2A in track, cross country


Chris Jones

Harlan County cross country and track coach Ryan Vitatoe was named coach of the year on the All-Area 9 team recently announced.

John Henson, Managing Editor

Through five seasons of 3A competition in cross country and track, the Harlan County Black Bears and Lady Bears have held their own.
Through seven seasons of 2A competition, the Bears and Lady Bears have been dominant.
That may explain why HCHS coaches and officials were happy with the news from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association earlier this week that both the cross country and track programs are moving back to 2A for the 2020-2021 school year and will likely stay there unless there is an increase in enrollment to over 1,060. The state is divided into three classes for both cross country and track based on enrollment.
“After just a heartbreaking disappointment that our student-athletes received with the cancellation of the spring sports season, the news that we have moved back to Class 2A gives coach (Ryan) Vitatoe and his kids a rejuvenated spirit and an added motivation going into our fall cross country season,” said Eugene Farmer, the athletic director at Harlan County High School.
The HCHS boys have won two regional cross country titles in cross country and finished second five times in 2A. The HCHS girls have won three regional titles and finished as runner-up three times in 2A. Neither team finished higher than fourth in 3A.
The Harlan County boys have finished second five times and first once in 2A track competition. The Harlan County girls have finished second twice in 2A.
HCHS was notified of the change by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association last week. Five schools either moved up or down due to changes in enrollment since the realignment was set before the 2017-2018 school year began. The enrollment at Harlan County has dropped to around 1,020 students.
“This is a pleasant surprise for our program. I’m very happy for our kids, and what it will mean for Harlan County High School,” Vitatoe said “I am thankful the KHSAA reviewed our enrollment at the mid-point and made this decision for our kids. It’s a welcomed decision, and definitely levels the playing field for us. I want to thank Mr. Farmer for his guidance and work on this as well.”
“We feel that our cross country and track and field programs could never be in better hands than Coach V and his staff,” said Farmer, “and we look forward to their continued success starting next season.”