HC teams continue Area 9 domination while Yeary, Lunsford claim individual titles


Kim Henson

Harlan County sophomore Peyton Lunsford won the Area 9 race on Saturday at Harlan County HIgh School.

By Abby Sherman, Contributing Writer

The Harlan County and Harlan cross country teams competed in the Area 9 District meet Saturday at HC. Harlan County’s boys and girls varsity and boys middle school teams won their respective races, while both elementary teams placed second overall. Harlan’s girls elementary team won their race, while boys varsity placed fourth and boys elementary placed third.
Andrew Yeary won the boys varsity race, leading the Bears to their ninth consecutive Area 9 win, finishing with a time of 17:52.50. He was followed immediately by Jacob Schwenke (19:05.52) and Kaden Boggs (19:06.06). Rounding out the results for HC were Caleb Schwenke (fifth, 20:06.18), Elijah Moore (sixth, 20:24.62), Austin Crain (seventh, 20:33.94), Hunter Smith (16th, 22:29.66), DaShaun Smith (18th, 22:43.18), Jonavan Rigney (26th, 24:15.18) and Caden Craig (32nd, 28:55.50).
“I’m so happy for Andrew. What a great performance to run sub 18 at home and win a district title. He’s grown up in this sport and I’m happy for him.” Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe said. “I’m so proud of all our guys. Winning a district title in any sport is tough, but to win nine straight is incredible. These guys are a close-knit group. It was a total team effort.”
Dylan Cox led Harlan, placing fourth with a time of 19:24.18. Brayden Howard (14th) finished with a time of 22:05.47, while Evan Bargo finished 28th with a time of 25:20.06. Other finishers for Harlan were Sayed Damaa (30th, 27:01.56), Connor Collins (31st, 28:15.47) and Seth Coogle (33rd, 32:20.00).
“Our high school boys are working on improving individual times this season. This is definitely a season of growth for our boys,” Harlan coach Anne Lindsey said. “They are making good progress to prepare for region.”
Peyton Lunsford (20:59.31) led the Lady Bears to their third straight Area 9 win, winning the girls varsity race. Preslee Hensley finished fourth with a time of 24:10.06, while Sophie Day (24:25.81) placed sixth. Other finishers for Harlan County were Kendall Brock (eighth, 24:46.21), Kylie Jones (11th, 25:36.62), Addi Gray (12th, 25:57.47), Olivia Kelly (19th, 27:04.12), Aliyah Deleon (20th, 27:40.84), Taylor Clem (22nd, 28:28.56), Lainey Garrett (27th, 30:37.34), Mary Gross (30th, 32:23.78) and Kaydie Coots (34th, 42:19.15).
“I was anxious to see how my girls would respond after our worst performance of the season at Bell, and I was really pleased. I’m happy for Peyton. This was a big win against a good field of runners. Her time on a soggy course was impressive.” Vitatoe said. “It was definitely a big lift to get Preslee and Aliyah back, but our core group ran great. Addi has come on strong in the late part of the season and has given us a big lift, but Sophie and Kendall also bounced back from Tuesday. I can’t say enough about the core group of girls who had great performances while we got healthy. We just have to get ready for the last push. Winning their third straight district title and 12th in our 15 year existence is a huge accomplishment.
Harlan’s Chloe Schwenke placed ninth with a time of 25:02.91. She was followed immediately by Mia Pace, who finished with a time of 25:35.59. Abbigaile Jones (26:24.87) finished 16th.
“Our high school girls are working hard to prepare for region in a few weeks. They are putting in the work at practice and I believe we are seeing the results during competition,” Lindsey said.
Harlan County’s Tanner Daniels (9:40.15) won the boys middle school race, setting a new school and course record. He was followed immediately by Luther Gross (10:38.56), Drew Sergent (10:42.12) and Riley Fuson (11:50.09). Rounding out the results were Kaylob Stevens (sixth, 12:25.18) and Xavier Farley (seventh, 12:55.99).
“This is a huge win for Tanner. He’s no secret in our state with his ability, but to come out and set a school and course record is a heck of an accomplishment. His time is the third fastest in our state at the middle school level on a tough course. He had a great day.” Vitatoe said. “But how about the other middle school guys’ performances?!?! Drew, Luther, Kaylob and Xavier ran great and they got a big win to become district champions. Their development this season has been fantastic.”
Gracie Roberts led Harlan County in the girls middle school race, placing second overall and setting a new school record with a time of 12:51.62. Keira Roberts (13:28.50) and Autumn Farley (14:28.18) finished third and fifth, respectively.
“Our middle school girls ran great. Gracie set a school record, but I can’t say enough about Keira and Autumn’s development this season. These three girls have worked hard and have done fantastic,” Vitatoe said.
Harlan’s Harper Carmical won the girls middle school race, finishing with a time of 12:03.12. Juliana Damaa placed seventh with a time of 15:29.18. Brooklyn Evans (21:34.50) and Brianna Creech (23:46.81) finished 10th and 11th, respectively.
“In middle school, Harper Carmical and Juliana Damaa ran a personal record. These girls are young but are blossoming into strong competitors.” Lindsey said. “We’re excited to have them run with our high school girls this season too!”
Priscilla Stewart (10:01.88) led Harlan to its victory, winning the girls elementary race. She was followed immediately by Lillian Daniels (10:45.22) and Cora Jones (10:46.46). Rounding out the results for Harlan were Mckenzie Petrey (fifth, 10:56.06), Julianne Miller (ninth, 12:13.18), Lillie Carver (10th, 12:23.81), Shaedyn Crow (11th, 12:46.72), Rebecca Adams (13th, 13:09.12), Arianna Raleigh (16th, 13:45.97), Hannah Adams (18th, 14:25.78), Natalie Adams (19th, 14:28.31), Sophia Damaa (20th, 14:34.00), Bella Lemar (27th, 16:06.03), Everly Freyer (29th, 16:50.47), Tori Wattenberger (30th, 16:56.72) and Arwen Lemaster (32nd, 22:47.28).
Cooper Thomas led Harlan, winning the boys elementary race with a time of 9:17.00. Micah Shope (11th) and Aiden Browning (12th) finished with times of 10:27.37 and 10:54.91. Other finishers for Harlan were Thomas Miller (14th, 11:00.18), Colt Sullivan (15th, 11:07.72), Kash Bailey (16th, 11:18.72), Mason Raleigh (18th, 11:27.21), Canaan Bolton (21st, 11:51.69), Braxton Sizemore (23rd, 11:58.90), Ben Parsons (25th, 12:02.59), Jett Luttrell (31st, 12:39.41), Andrew Alred (33rd, 12:55.06), Saylor Crow (34th, 12:55.84), Connor Thomas (35th, 12:57.75), Justyce Young (36th, 13:02.47), Jayceon Young (37th, 13:04.06), Toby Hensley (40th, 13:31.12) and Finn Lemar (49th, 17:32.15).
“Our runners performed great today. Our girls elementary team continue to lay down fast times. Our boys elementary also had a strong race today.” Lindsey said. “We had a lot of individual runners medal, and that’s really great, but I love the fact that these young runners are discovering what it means to run for your team as well as yourself. I’m excited to watch them mature in the sport over the coming years.”
Harlan County’s Anna Gross (11:17.09) finished seventh overall in the girls elementary race. Ella Brock (12th) finished with a time of 12:49.18. Alice Gross (13:31.75) placed 14th. Rounding out the results for Harlan County were Natalie Moore (17th, 13:52.25), Nevaeh Perkins (21st, 14:38.38), Isabella Burkhart (22nd, 14:39.00), Charlotte Mitchell (24th, 15:22.22), Paisleigh Asher (25th, 15:29.56), Evva Hensley (26th, 15:54.66), Savannah Fuson (28th, 16:14.97) and Nevaeh Stone (31st, 18:28.03).
Hunter Fuson led HC in the boys elementary race, placing second overall with a time of 9:34.31. Jacob Brock (fifth) and Hutton Sherman (sixth) finished with times of 10:04.21 and 10:07.06, respectively. Other finishers for Harlan County were Eli Barger (13th, 10:57.12), Jackson Mackowiack (17th, 11:25.97), Robby Johnson (19th, 11:39.78), Jayden Sargent (20th, 11:46.28), Zakk Collins (22nd, 11:56.34), Levi Hensley (24th, 12:01.40), Sawyer Shackleford (26th, 12:03.84), Ryland Burke (27th, 12:23.91) Jonah Sargent (28th, 12:27.50), Ben Crain (29th, 12:29.44), Hunter Evans (30th, 12:31.52), Brycen Saylor (32nd, 12:51.69), Deacon Lisenbee (41st, 14:20.09), Jase Sargent (42nd, 15:23.22), Hunter Asher (43rd, 15:34.18), Jordan Sargent (44th, 15:35.06), Reid Daniels (46th, 16:47.88), Carter Daniels (47th, 17:12.88) and Brayden Perkins (48th, 17:22.66).
”What a great day for our program. I’m super proud of all our elementary kids. They’ve worked so hard and Coach Brock, Epperson, and Bailey have done great with them. They’ve worked so hard this season.” Vitatoe said. “They are the future of the sport in our county and the future is bright.
The Area 9 and Black Bear Invitational meets were both held simultaneously.
Harlan County’s elementary and middle school teams will be back in action Monday at Lynn Camp. Varsity teams will compete on Tuesday. Harlan’s varsity teams will compete in an all-comers meet Thursday at Whitley County.

Harlan County’s Kendall Brock headed toward the finish line at the Area 9 race on Saturday. (Kim Henson)
HCHS runners Addi Gray (front) and Kylie Jones are pictured during the Area 9 race. (Kim Henson)
Harlan County’s Tanner Daniels won the middle school division in the Area 9 race Saturday.
Harlan’s Cooper Thomas won the elementary school division of the Area 9 race.