When University Heights Academy’s Muki Kunnmann walked onto the course during her first Class 1A, Region 1 cross-country meet at Marshall County four years ago, she wasn’t sure if she would ever win a regional title.
When Kunnmann left Yellow Creek Park in Owensboro Saturday, she was a four-time champion and one of the most decorated athletes in region history.
“As the years go on, I know I can do it again and again,” she said. “The training has changed as I switched coaches around sophomore year but even then I’ve gotten stronger and stronger as I’ve gotten older.”
Kunnmann finished with a time of 20:36.87 to win by more than 25 seconds over St. Mary’s Miranda Gartner.
Hopkinsville’s Allison Wood has been a friendly rival for Kunnmann this season and the Lady Tiger has pushed the Lady Blazer this season, something that hasn’t been done the last several years.
“That’s been really nice actually,” she said of her battle with Wood. “It’s good to have someone hold you accountable even where there isn’t much other competition and to have that locally is really nice.”
Wood finished seventh in the Class 3A race and also qualified for the state tournament as a sophomore.
On the boys’ side, Tomas Duncan won his second Class 1A, Region 1 crown in as many years with a time of 16:38.08 to win by more than 30 seconds.
The UHA boys’ team wasn’t the only to qualify as a team as both of the Trigg County teams will send groups to the state championship.
Trigg County’s Lexi Ricks finished fourth overall with a time of 21:41.45 to lead the Lady Wildcats. Trigg had several finished in the top 30 including DeDe Barbee (12th), Grace Hill (13th), Livi Ricks (14th), Breeanna Barnes (21st), Kylie Alford (24th) and Phelan Dossett (26th).
Fort Campbell girls’ cross-country will also have representatives at state in Haley Davee, Katie Guevara-Maldonado and Lilliauna Powers.
On the boys’ side, Austin Cavanaugh led the Wildcats to a fourth-place team finish after he took 13th and finished just ahead of teammate Apolo Blackbear Francis.
Fort Campbell’s Gabe Gamez also qualified after finishing 11th with a time of 18:23.97.
Hopkinsville’s Chase Atkins continued his strong sophomore campaign with an eighth-place finish in the Class 3A race. Atkins finished with a time of 16:37.27 to seal his medalist honors by more than 20 seconds.
Fellow Tiger Blake Denkler, a freshman, finished 20th with a time of 17:29. 61 to also qualify for Saturday’s race.