Meagan Smith of Danville finished 14th Saturday while running against the best field she has faced in the Franklin County Invitational at Lexington.
Smith, a first-year cross country runner who has finished first or second in all of her previous meets, defeated all but 10 Kentucky runners in the elite meet, which includes most of the state’s top teams and some out-of-state runners as well.
She ran the 3.1-mile Kentucky Horse Park course, which is also the site of the state meet, in 20 minutes, 20 seconds.
“Megan continues to amaze me,” Danville coach Chris Verhoven said. “For someone who is still considered a newcomer to the sport, her competitive drive is just amazing. She’s still learning to run 5Ks, she’s still learning courses, and she’s right up there competing with people who have run this for years.”
Smith, a junior, finished seven places and 14 seconds behind Maddox Patterson of Sayre, a three-time Class A girls champion whom she will compete against in both regional and state meets. She was second among Class A runners in the 273-person field.
“It’s not only the best competition that we’ve faced all year, but probably that we will most of the year until we get to the state meet,” Verhoven said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with Meagan’s progress at this stage of the season. I love the fact that she is continue to improve each time and finding things that she wants to work on and improve on.
“It’ll be real interesting to see her times a month from now.”
Bryant Qualls of Mercer County finished 47th out of 340 runners in the boys race with a time of 17:50.
Franklin County Invitational
At Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington
(3.1 miles; 48 teams; 340 runners)
Team leaders and area teams — 1. Trinity 33; 2. Daviess County 75; 3. Paul Dunbar 197; 31. Mercer County 846.
Individual leader — 1. Nicholas Laureano (Lexington Catholic) 16:29.
Area runners — 47. Bryant Qualls (Mercer County) 17:50; 144. Jacob Crowell (Mercer County) 19:10; 154. Dean Tyler (Mercer County) 19:17; 205. Charles Holsinger (Burgin) 19:59; 273. Jordan Woods (Mercer County) 21:35; 281. Nick Beckerson (Burgin) 21:56; 283. Lex Burkhead (Mercer County) 22:02.
(3.1 miles; 39 teams; 273 runners)
Team leaders and area teams — 1. Oldham County 67; 2. Daviess County 108; 3. South Oldham 108; 31. Mercer County 796.
Individual leader — 1. Whitney O’Bryan (Daviess County) 19:10.
Area runners — 14. Meagan Smith (Danville) 20:19; 100. Taylor Gray (Mercer County) 22:59; 142. Cora Teets (Mercer County) 23:46; 188. Allie Crowell (Mercer County) 25:29; 203. Tori Gray (Mercer County) 26:00; 241. Casey Host (Mercer County) 28:24.