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November 8, 2002

Trigg runners have Wright stuff

From: Hopkinsville Kentucky New Era, KY
Nov. 8, 2002


When the Trigg County High School contingent competes in this weekend's State Cross Country meet at the Kentucky Horse Park campground, Wildcat coach Mike Wright will try to occupy two roles.

Wright, of course, is the veteran mentor of the Trigg County cross country program, a role honed by 17 years of coaching. However, the long-time coach will probably have an out-of-body experience, especially when his eighth-grade son, Zach, trots out on the course.

Part of him, as a coach, is just there to bark out orders, talk strategy, or discuss different runners' strength. But, as a daddy, Mike, would like to shuck off his coach's whistle and just jump and shout.

Actually, the boys won't be the focus of his the Trigg County effort, since his entire girls' squad, led by freshman Megan Burford, will be gunning for team glory. There's only two boys, Zach and teammate, Cory Harrison, who is maybe the only deaf runner at the state meet.

Zach finished ninth at the Class A regional, thereby winning him a medal and all-region status. When he raced over the finish line, Zach looked around for his daddy. Wright was 200 yards away, cheering on the remainder of the team.

"He ran back up the course, about 200 yards. He sprinted towards me and jumped up in my arms," said Wright, who is filing that memory away for future use.

Before the season, Zach wasn't exactly out for cross country. He was on the golf team, but the competition was tough and one day he came out for a cross country team run on the Arrowhead Golf Course golf path. Zach "blew it away" in the words of his father.

"We had a run for time (on another occasion) and Zach's time for the mile was five minutes," Wright said. "He told me "I want to run cross country.""

He won his first meet against tough Dawson Springs and was away and running.

Last week before the regional, Zach spent more time with the basketball squad. New head coach Bill Chumbler told Mike he would make sure Zach would get plenty of running time, as he did for Harrison, another basketball player.

Zach responded in two middle school games by scoring 37 points in three quarters and by matching the Lyon County team score with 27 points.

He, and Harrison, were in perfect shape for the regional meet. Harrison qualified with a 21st place finish.

Mike Wright has won two state championships in cross country, but he thinks his girls' squad will have a great race if they run, as a team in the top 12 spots.

"It's the first time we've qualified a girls team in six years for the state meet. We're real excited," Wright said.

Two other high schools taking up entire teams are the Fort Campbell girls' team, who won their Class 2-A regional for the second straight year, and the Christian County High School boys' squad that finished fourth in the Class 3-A regional.

Pacing the Christian County boys will be Brad Lykins, who placed fourth at the regional meet with a 16:45 time.

The headliner for Fort Campbell is eighth-grader Rebecca Shultz. She snared her second straight regional championship with a winning time of 20:26. Knowledgeable fans of cross country believe the Lady Falcons will have a good shot at claiming a first-place team trophy.

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