LEXINGTON — Neither the Hollywood ending, nor a Kentucky Derby conclusion, panned out for the Scott County High School boys' track and field team on Saturday.
A wing-and-a-prayer performance in the finishing 4x400 relay fell just shy of St. Xavier, the Louisville rival with which SC jockeyed for position atop the standings all morning and afternoon at the University of Kentucky.
The Cardinals' final recourse — a formal protest, contending that St. X interfered by making contact with Scott County's Adam Greiving during the second leg of the showdown — fell on deaf ears. The judge assigned to that section of the course did not see a violation, the Cards were told.
And with that, the school's best-ever bid for a Class 3A state title fell nine points (88-79) and one spot shy of its ultimate goal.
“They just said, 'Coach, I appreciate you fighting for the kids,' but they can't watch a film and they have no official video,” SC coach Monty McIntyre said. “It's in the rules, so we've just got to go on somebody's word. If that's the worst thing that happens to us in life, we're going to be OK. We're fine.”
As was the case in two prior relays on the day, Scott County smashed its school record. Caleb Griggs, Greiving, Bryce Hearn and Ashton Miller ran 3:25.95, more than a second-and-a-half faster than the previous mark set in a title-winning tour at regions two weeks ago.
Greiving mysteriously fell off the pace while battling on the backstretch on lap two, however. Scott County vehemently claimed contact sent him from second to fourth place before he could regain momentum.
Miller picked up his senior teammate with an incredible last-lap surge to second, but it wasn't enough to overcome the St. Xavier quartet of Zack Martinez, Eoin Corbett, Paul Russell and Grady Shifflet (3:22.96) or the Tigers' seven-point lead entering the final event.
“By the time I got to the turn, I knew I'm going to have to run as hard as I can and something's going to happen to [the St. X] guy,” Miller said. “I just gave it my all.”
That was the theme of the season, and an unprecedented career at Scott County, for Bryan Hudson.
It wasn't the finish the Virginia Tech football and track signee coveted — personal and state records eluded him — but Hudson dominated the shot put for a four-year sweep of the event and the discus for his third consecutive title in that discipline.
”Not even close. I couldn't get into a rhythm today in the discus, and in the shot I've been inconsistent, anyway. I just didn't get a feel for it and just didn't have a good day,” Hudson said. “I've been blessed to have the ability to do this for a while now. I'm happy that I won and got the state championships, but it just wasn't what I was looking for.”
Hudson overcame obstacles to simply get here that would have sidetracked most. He underwent surgery to repair a dislocated left kneecap on Jan. 7.
After winning both region championships with his first fully spinning throws of the season, Hudson graduated from SCHS on May 24, then reported to Virginia Tech for summer courses and football workouts three days later.
“He came back (Friday) night, got in about 9 o'clock, and got two state championships (Saturday),” McIntyre said. “He had a great career. He's a better human being than he is an athlete. He's going to have a great career at Virginia Tech.”
Hudson's marks were 56-6 in the shot put and 173-8 in the discus.
Scott County went one-two in the shot put, with junior Austin Taylor (48-9 1/2) backing up his mentor.
"I was not expecting that," McIntyre said.
The Cardinals smashed school records in the 4x100 with Miller, Greiving, Silas Emongo and Bryce Chisley (fourth place, 42.15) and the 4x200 of Miller, Jeremy Hamilton, Greiving and Chisley (third, 1:28.31).
Chisley, a sophomore, also finished fourth in what was the fastest 100-meter dash in state history, won by Henry Clay's Langston Jackson.
"We thought we were going to win. We came in with that mentality in every relay," Miller said. "Even if we didn't win, that mentality helps you."
It was a four-event scoring day for Miller, who ran fourth (49.92) in the 400.
Peyton Shotwell put a tie for third in the high jump and sixth in the triple jump into the Cards’ bank.
In addition to his key lead-off role in the 4x400, Griggs was fifth in the 300 hurdles.
Scott County returned most of its key runners, throwers and jumpers from last year's team, its first to win a regional title of any kind in more than a decade.
"When I first started coaching, I didn't know what I was doing. I was just a football coach, coaching track," McIntyre said. "Now that I've learned how to strategize, I'm really helping the kids out. At first I would just tell them to run and turn left. And now we've got our (relay) hand-offs down."
All involved say this year's level of commitment exceeded what the program saw from its participants in the past.
"Last year's class and even the classes before that, everybody came and worked, but this year's just been different. We had a couple of guys fight through some injuries, and they've come back and really competed," Hudson said. "Every day in practice we fight, and we have grit. Just the way that we've come up from not really being a contender at the state meet to coming up and hopefully winning one today, everybody on the team has worked hard."
"It used to be if you had a job, you could go to the job and not really come to practice," McIntyre added. "We cut all that out. If you're going to run track, you're going to run track, period."
Scott County's girls didn't enter the state meet with the same depth, but there were two prize-winning performances.
Heather Woodie was runner-up in the pole vault at 11-6. Lydia LeDet's triple jump of 36-2 1/2 earned fourth. Each was a career best.
With the opening of Great Crossing High School this fall and a split of the talent pool, there are no guarantees as to when a team from the county will get this close to a state track title again,
The Cards wrestled with those mixed emotions in the immediate aftermath.
"This is the best team Scott County's probably had since I don't know when. It's the best senior class. We gave it all we had," Miller said. "We have the best thrower in history, 20 guaranteed points, and then with the combination of our youth getting fast and our seniors developing, it turned us into really competitive for a state championship."
"We've just got to live with it, but I'm proud of the kids," McIntyre said. "They had a great day and a great year. They're a little bit disappointed right now, but they'll wake up in the morning and be glad about what they've done."
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.