Western Hills’ Griffin Staude successfully defended his regional crown Saturday at the Class 2A Region 4 cross country meet.

Staude, a senior, won the race in a time of 15 minutes, 44.09 seconds at the Mason County Athletic Complex.

The WHHS boys team qualified for state with a third-place finish, and three WHHS girls qualified for state as individuals.

Franklin County had four individual state qualifiers.

“Our guys finished where we were expected,” WHHS coach Adam Schaffner said. “We came in ranked third and we finished third.

“Of course Griffin won. That was probably his best time all season. Jon Eades finished seventh, and he ran a PR (personal record) for the year. Joshua Downey finished ninth, just missed a medal. The top three ran PRs for the year.”

WHHS junior Emma Campbell was fifth in the girls race to qualify for state. Also qualifying from Western Hills are Jett Bradley and Emily Harrod.

“Our girls were ranked fifth, and we thought we had a shot at finishing fourth,” Schaffner said. “Emma was solid up front for us. Jett ran second for us today. She’s been banged up all week with a hip injury, and she ran really well, and Emily qualified for state. She ran her season best this year.

“Holland (Riddell) and Ridhi (Penmecha), both eighth graders, ran really well. Ridhi ran her first high school race, and I thought she ran excellent.”

The top four teams qualified for state.

All four of Franklin County’s qualifiers are in middle school. They’re Rylee Schaffner, an eighth grader, on the girls side, and eighth graders Isaac Anders and Graham Clements and seventh grader Ismael Valladares on the boys side.

“We knew the field would be talented and our chances of sending qualifiers would be difficult,” FCHS girls coach Kristen O’Neil said, “but we are overall grateful for a season where we could compete at a region meet.

“Our girls team competed and ran their best races. We are proud of the team and Rylee for a great season.”

Andrews, Valladares and Clements finished 32nd to 34th, respectively, to take the third, fourth and fifth state qualifying spots.

The top five runners in each race not on a team that qualifies advances to state.

“We all knew that teammates would be working against each other to fill the five qualifying spots,” FCHS boys coach Michael Baird said. “Our three boys that made it all ran together for most the race. It was really a matter of who they collectively could pass and how well they could maintain their positions.

“My fourth runner, Elijah Lyles, was working hard to get reconnected with the group but ran out of time and had to settle for the sixth spot, which was the first one out. That was tough considering he ran his best race ever on Saturday.”

Five of the Flyers’ six runners ran personal best times.

“This particular postseason is a big deal for the entire Franklin County and Elkhorn program because it’s the start of a wave of very talented runners,” Baird said. “We have a very strong middle school program right now, and they are already making an impact at the high school level.”

The state Class 2A races will take place Friday at the Bourbon County Cross Country Course in Paris.

Both races will be run in waves. The boys waves will start at 4 p.m., 4:05 p.m. and 4:10 p.m., and the girls waves are set for 5 p.m., 5:05 p.m. and 5:10 p.m.

Here are the winners and the local results from the regional meet.

BOYS

1. Griffin Staude (WH) 15:44.09, 7. Jon Eades (WH) 17:19.51, 9. Joshua Downey (WH) 17:21.51, 15. Luke Staude (WH) 18:02.91, 29. Nathan Goodpaster (WH) 20:28.86, 30. Matthias Jones (WH) 20:38.25, 31. Brenden Bass (WH) 20:40.87, 32. Isaac Andrews (FC) 20:47.12, 33. Ismael Valladares (FC) 20:50.94, 34. Graham Clements (FC) 21:05.39, 36. Elijah Lyles (FC) 21:26.16, 44. Christian Roberts (FC) 22:41.54, 47. Christian Adkins (FC) 24:16.83.

GIRLS

1. Maggie Schroeder (Highlands) 18:51.08, 5. Emma Campbell (WH) 19:54.55, 16. Jett Bradley (WH) 21:16.27, 23. Emily Harrod (WH) 22:09.08, 24. Rylee Schaffner (FC) 22:09.53, 26. Kate Alvis (FC) 22:20.42, 29. Holland Riddell (WH) 22:52.82, 30. Ridhi Penmecha (WH) 22:53.63, 34. Elizabeth Valles (FC) 23:16.95, 35. Eliza Boone (FC) 23:20.06, 38. Riley Gillis (FC) 24:03.50, 39. Harper Heffley (WH) 24:39.87, 41. Sara Jones (WH) 26:10.91, 42. Juliana Salamanca (FC) 26:23.12, 43. Olivia Adkins (FC) 27:03.24.

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