The Wildcats qualified a team for the state meet for the first time since 1987. Forget that fact that Trigg finished 17th out of 24 teams at the Class A Meet. Just getting a team back to the state level in a sport that has seen its numbers dwindle since the birth of soccer is victory enough.
Now, Mike Wright enters his 20th season as head coach with the task of sending the team back to Lexington in a region made tougher with the addition of former rival Fort Campbell.
“We already have two of the toughest teams in the state in our region in Hancock County and St. Mary. Adding Fort Campbell makes it that much tougher,” Wright said.
Fort Campbell was dropped from 2A to 1A in both track and cross country by the KHSAA.
Wright has seven experienced runners returning in 2005 on the boys’ side, while the girls have ten people out.
“Interest is as high now as it has been in 20 years,” said Wright, who could have carried runners home from practice in his pickup truck in past years due to the low numbers.
Junior Zack Wright, who finished seventh at the region meet and 42nd at the state meet, will be expected to repeat his lofty numbers again in 2005.
Senior Corey Harrison has gotten past injuries that sidelined him during his sophomore season and finished 73rd at the state meet last year.
Wright expects his top two runners to lead the Wildcats again in 2005.
“Corey is a year-round runner and had a solid year last year,” Wright said. “Zack has improved each year, and they should push each other in practice to the point it makes them better runners.”
Sophomore A.J. Bridges, who also plays soccer, finished 19th at the region meet on a limited training schedule and later went on to place 81st at the state meet.
Wright will once again have to share Bridges with the soccer team.
Both Harrison and Wright have made three straight appearances at the state meet, while Bridges has made two trips to Lexington.
Eighth grader Zeke Wright was 27th at the region meet and should challenge the top three at times this year.
“He has grown a lot and is ready to run with the high schoolers,” Wright said.
Senior Chase Thomas and junior Landen Burcham were both members of last year’s team and will fill out a pack that will be needed to push the front runners.
Wright is also hopeful that Fort Campbell transfer Michael Polanec, a senior, can fit into the lead pack and help the Wildcats keep their scores low.
Three freshmen – Grady Cofield, Jay Jolly, and Zack Storms, along with middle schoolers Matthew Brokering, Jacob Griffith, Joseph Griffith, and Romaine Cunningham, should provide depth for a program that in recent years has seen as much depth as an episode of The Osbournes.
On the girls’ side, all four runners who qualified for the state meet return as well as several newcomers.
Junior Melissa Taylor has been to two state meets, including last year, and three others made their first trek to Lexington last year.
Freshman Skylynn Fortner was Trigg’s first runner to cross the line at the state meet in 147th place after a 32nd place finish at the region meet.
Sophomore Leigh Whitney Groves proved to be Trigg’s most consistent runner last year, which also earned her a trip to the state meet.
Eighth grader and state qualifier Kanisha Frye also comes back from last year’s team, which qualified four runners for the state meet for the first time in three years.
Senior Molly Walters, who has qualified for two state meets before taking last year off, returns to give the Lady Wildcats even more experience.
Sophomore Shaundra Finley, seventh grader Scottie Fortner, sixth grader Sierra Bush, and fourth grader Macey King round out the Lady Wildcat roster.
“We will get better each week, and we’ve running since the first of August to get ready. We want to send a pair of teams to state this year,” Wright said.
Trigg County will begin their season after Labor Day with a couple of meets that week, Wright said.