LEXINGTON – Perhaps his coach called it two weeks ago. When Luke Spurrier ran a less than desirable mile time in scorching conditions at the regional meet, South Warren coach Steve Eaton told him to cut out any other distance event and win the half-mile.

Not run your best half-mile. Win it.

“We said you’re skipping the mile at state and you’re going to win the half,” Eaton said. “We didn’t even think about it. It was that day, that minute.”

Spurrier executed his plan so flawlessly that the win wasn’t so much a surprise as his time. The South Warren senior set a blistering pace and held his ground to win the state championship in the boys’ 800-meter run Saturday at the KHSAA Class 3A State Track and Field Championships at the University of Kentucky.

Spurrier ran the two laps in 1 minute and 52.25 seconds, beating his previous personal record by three seconds. He finished third in the same event last year after getting boxed behind other runners in the early stages of the race.

Eaton reminded Spurrier of that mistake Saturday, to which the runner said before going on the track, “That’s not going to happen.”

“I knew I wanted to come get a PR and I knew I wanted to chase that championship,” Spurrier said. “I knew I needed to stay tough, go out fast and get ahead. Thankfully my coach did everything he could and trained me well, so I had that strength to finish strong.”

Spurrier also anchored the Spartans’ 4x800-meter relay team to a fourth-place finish. Normally he would run three or four events, but the mission of winning the title in the half-mile wouldn’t work if he used his energy in other races.

He qualified to run the 1,600-meter run at state, but opted out to save everything for the half-mile. The 4x800 relay race came early in the day, meaning Spurrier was well-rested to burst out of his stance and roar to the front.

“I knew I wanted to have two really strong finishes to my high school career,” Spurrier said. “This whole year I’ve run 4x800 and 800 every race. I’ve gotten comfortable with the distance and the strategy and how to pace yourself well and finish hard.”

Spurrier can rest easy now with a title in his last race as a Spartan before running this fall for Duke University. His two years at South Warren were filled with top-five finishes in either cross country or distance events in track. He won the 800- and 1,600-meter runs as a junior in the 3A, Region 2 meet and went 1-2 in those respective events this season.

The state meet was the only race left without a first-place column. Once Spurrier established his front-running pace and crossed the first 400 meters in less than a minute, Eaton knew that win was well on its way.

“When he went out across the high 50s on the first lap, I knew it was over,” Eaton said. “I call him a distance runner, but he’s got more fast-twitch muscle than he does distance. It means he’s faster than heck, and he is.

“He could’ve won so many races over the last two years and always something came up. I’m just so happy he could end his career at South Warren with a state championship.”

Logan County’s Tanner Morrow also medaled in the boys’ 800-meter run in 1:58.14 to finish fifth.

Bowling Green’s Kristin Dent and Elvin FoFanah rounded out other area individuals who medaled in their respective events. FoFanah turned in a new PR of 39.33 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles to finish fourth.

Dent crushed her previous PR in the girls’ 1,600-meter run by 10 seconds to finish fifth in 5:14.45.

The Lady Purples also placed two relay teams on the podium made up of senior Grace Klusty, sophomores Erica Smith and Z’Nyah Owens and freshman Bailee Woods. That quartet placed fourth in the 4x100-meter relay in 50.22 and seventh in the 4x200-relay in 1:47.17.

Bailee joined that group to replace Jasmine Varner from last year’s 4x200-relay team that set the school record.

“It’s been a process of rebuilding and trying to bond together because you can’t have a good relay team without a good bond for sure,” Smith said.

The Spartans’ 4x800-meter relay team of Spurrier, Peter Furgal, Pattrick Stiltner and Kyle Woodward set their fastest time of the year in 8:11.65 for their second straight top-five finish at state. Furgal, Spurrier and Woodward placed third last year and set the school record with Matt Wininger, who graduated.

Stiltner joined that group after transferring from Woodford County and kept the relay team rolling with another strong finish at state.

“We were pretty confident coming in,” Woodward said. “We’ve put in incredible training all season and we were confident in our ability coming into this today. We had the season-best and the second-fastest time in school history, so it’s exciting.”

South Warren’s boys finished 14th in the team standings to lead area finishers with 14 points. Bowling Green earned six points to finish 28th. Trinity won the overall boys’ title with 87 points, followed by St. Xavier (60) and Male (56).

The Lady Purples had a top-10 finish with 25 points to place ninth. Male won the overall girls’ title with 75.5 points to edge Tates Creek at 71 points. Dupont Manual earned 57.5 points to round out the top three in the girls’ standings.{&end}

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