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Rebels searching for fifth runner as postseason nears

Both of Boyle County’s cross country teams had top-10 performances Thursday at the Rebels’ home meet at Millennium Park.

But both teams are still searching for that fifth runner to cut times and help Boyle to higher team finishes as the schedule tilts toward the postseason.

The Rebels placed three runners in the top five on the boys side: Seth Stomberger placed second (18:13), Will Lafavers third (18:17) and Jackson Cox fifth (18:43).

Naia Hutchins (22:25, third) and Emma Jackson (23:37, fourth) were the only finishers in the top 10 for the Rebels on the girls side.

Missing from those results are the top two runners from last season for Boyle — Ezekiel Harless on the boys side and Ally Anderson on the girls side. Anderson has been dealing with an injury since track season and hasn’t ran this year. Harless has ran this season but was held out of Thursday’s race as a precaution.

Jack Stomberger, who would likely be the boys’ fifth runner, has also missed this season due to injury.

Finding runners to replace those spots — the top five runners for each team contribute to the team score — has been a challenge for head coach Donna Anderson.

Micah Brown, Bobby McClellan, Jesse Odell and Hunter Ellis are in the mix for that fifth spot and would round out Boyle’s lineup in a varsity-only race. Brown and McClellan finished 14th and 15th, respectively, on Thursday.

“We were stuck at the same times that we’ve been running,” Boyle head coach Donna Anderson said. “Any one of that group could end up being our fifth man. Jesse has the potential, he’s an eighth grader so he’s got time. Micah and Bobby were working better together,and I know that they know that the pressure is on them to get that fifth spot. There’s a lot of points between that fourth and fifth spot and we’ve got to move up.”

The injuries have taken a toll early in the year.

“I don’t feel like anything we’re doing training-wise is crazy or off the wall that could be accounting for those injuries,” coach Anderson said.

But coach Anderson said she likes her team’s current mindset, noting Seth Stomberger and Lafavers as stepping up at the top.

“Will is in his element as a cross country guy,” she said. “I was telling him, he needs to take his cross-country mind to the track and Jackson needs to bring his track mind to the cross country course. It’s crazy. It’s one of the great things about cross country. Seth is all about running, he’s excited. They’re pushing each other in practice and it’s great that they have that group to work with.”

The Boyle girls team has been led by Hutchins and Jackson this season. Nancy Haddad, Sophia Fogle and Hannah Powell were the final three scorers on Thursday. Annabelle Tarter also runs but splits time between the cross-country team and middle school basketball.

“They go and they keep going,” coach Anderson said. “They’re doing what they can, working hard. I’m proud of their effort and what they’re doing. Getting five girls put together to get a score to compete, we’re still working on that.”

Danville’s cross country team had a strong performance at the Boyle County Invitational, taking first place on the girls side thanks to all five scorers placing in the top 17. Lisa Voyles placed second with a 22:19 time.

Mercer County’s Haley Blevins won the girls race with a 22:07 time, and Lincoln County was led by a seventh-place finish from Ava Morgan (24:10).

Danville boys were led by Jesse Cummings (13th, 21:01) and Sam Gibson (16th, 21:17).