When talking about the most consistent high school athletic programs in Kentucky, it is easy to ramble on about Louisville Trinity football, Scott County basketball, or McCracken County baseball, and how these programs are dominating year in and year out.
The Webster County boys cross country team deserves a seat at that same table.
Trojan junior Ryan Roland ran a 17:18.87 to claim his third straight individual region title, the Trojans had five runners finish in the top eight, and Webster County won its seventh straight Class AA, Region One championship in sloppy conditions down in Marshall County on Saturday afternoon.
Roland came into this cross country season knowing that he would be the person to knock off the mountain this year, but he just kept pushing with his training as the whole team developed well with some tough workouts from Coach Todd Whitsell.
"To start it would just be the overall dedication and hard work that the team and I put into every single practice," Roland said. Our coaching also plays a big role in not only my success but also the team's success. (Coach Whitsell) gives us some of the hardest practices that we have had this year and they paid off in the end."
It was yet another season of success for a team coached by Whitsell as Webster has now won the region title nine out of the 13 years that Whitsell has been coach of the Trojans.
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"I believe it starts with a coach's perspective on training through a positive attitude and key experiences for those who become involved with the program," said Whitsell on what has led to the program's consistent success. "I think any team that wins a district, region or state competition: a huge target is labeled on your back as 'the team to beat' and you will get everyone's best effort in being the team that knocks you off the stage. A program must have a systematic and individualized approach to high-level training.
We are a very young team by age but these guys are experienced being this is the third year the guys have trained together with the exception of Trevor Baker. Training young minds to compete on a varsity level demonstrates their work ethic and determination to accomplish team and personal goals."
Baker was the next Trojan to cross the finish line as he ran a 17:38.48 to come in third while Garrett West had a 17:56.24 clocking to come in fourth. Aidan Whitsell was eighth as he ran the course in 18:46.75, Vincent Major was 11th with a 19:04.12 clocking, and Luke Glazebrook was the last Trojan to finish with a time of 20:58.91 -- 14 spots ahead of the last runner in the 41-runner field as the Trojans finished a whopping 36 points ahead of runner-up Trigg County in the team standings.
Although the Trojans have had remarkable success against western Kentucky competition in recent years, there is one thing that is still eluding Webster County: a state title. Both Roland and Whitsell knows that a Class AA state title is definitely possible on Saturday at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, but it would take a season-best from every runner for the Trojans to have a chance.
"It would take the best from everyone on our team," Roland said. "We would need everyone to set their own personal best time for us to win. Two of us need to come in the top 10. One needs to come in the top 20. Then the other two would need to be in the top 50 for us to have a chance at the state title."
"This team all year knows how to compete and that's exactly what is expected," Whitsell said. "They know the opportunity that lies before them and we will give it our best running and hopefully we finish first."