2020 Tiger Cross Country Recap

After two years of finishing second to crosstown rival Trinity, the Saint Xavier Cross Country team brought the State Championship back where it belongs. 

Starting with the first preseason rankings, the Tigers were miles ahead of the rest of the 3A competitors. Only losing two seniors from their single-point loss a year prior, St. X was poised to win State in dominant fashion. All season, the Tigers were the team to beat in Kentucky.

Kicking off their season at Rumble Through the Jungle in Goshen, the Tigers adapted to a shortened racing distance (3k) to take the team title handily. Nolan Hester led the way, beginning his season-long tear through the competition to finish 2nd overall. The Tigers placed nine runners in the top 30, winning by a margin of 32 points. It was the first of many victories to come.

The Tigers led from the beginning of the second wave at Rumble Through the Jungle (St. Xavier XC)

The Tigers’ first full distance race (5K) was at the Trinity Valkyrie Invitational. It was a marquee event and an annual preview of the State Championship. 

Run on one of the fastest courses in the country, the Tigers swept the day, crushing the Kentucky competition in each race. The varsity team kicked off the day with a 3rd place finish just behind nationally ranked Cincinnati St. X and Floyd Central. Even with such a large field of over 500 runners, the Tigers were able to finish first in the Kentucky results without their top runner racing due to injury. 

(From Left) Matthew Wantland, Joshua Striegel, Walker Bunch, and Matthew Wantland at the Trinity Valkyrie Invitational (St. Xavier XC)

Following the varsity races, the next wave of great racers for the Tigers also ran incredibly well. In both the Fr/So and Jr/Sr division, the team and individuals won their respective categories.  Freshman Tristan Hindorff and sophomore Aaron Napier lead their division going one – two in their races and won the team title as well. Junior Luke Napier and senior Aiden O’Brien also pushed the Jr/Sr division athletes to a team win, finishing in 1st and 2nd in theirs, too. A dominant day of racing seemed to be a precursor to the future of the St. X distance program, both this year and those ensuing. 

With wins at the first two cross country events of the year, the Tigers moved to the Coach Cooper Track. Hosting the HOKA Postal Nationals Two Mile, teams and athletes across the state looked to go head-to-head with the Tigers. Virtually, teams across the nation competed in an effort to gain some mid-season ranking on the national stage. The eight lap event was bound to be one of the highlights of the season for the team. 

Nolan Hester once again won individually in one of the most memorable races of the season. Coming back from a 15-meter deficit on the final lap, Hester beat out the competition in a time of 9:39. When the dust settled across the country, the Tigers had placed 24th in the nation even after withholding two of the top five runners due to injury. 

The Tigers continued their domination at the Louisville XC Classic the following week, winning handily. Two weeks later they travelled to Bourbon County in a preview of the State Cross Country course and venue. The KTCCCA Meet of Champions produced many of the fastest times of the year, including a 15:17 win by Nolan Hester. The Tigers’ varsity team won with an average time of 16:09 across the 5K distance. The Tigers proved they were ready to win the final two races of the season.

Nolan Hester finished with a time of 15:17 at the Meet of Champions (St. Xavier XC)

On October 24th, the Tigers travelled to Oldham County High School for the Region 3 AAA Championships. Placing 5 runners in the top 10, the Tigers won their 13th consecutive Regional Championship in dominant fashion. Nolan Hester also won individually. He was the third consecutive individual Tiger to win the event and did so with ease. With a top 5 split of only 40 seconds, the Tigers looked poised to win another State Championship. 

The 3A Regional Championship Team following their 13th consecutive win (St. Xavier XC)


Regional Recap Video Assistant Coach Mike Garcia: 



For the final race of the season, the team travelled once again to Bourbon County for the KHSAA State Championship. In a stellar performance, the Tigers implemented their pack running strategy throughout the first two miles of the race. Going into the final mile, both the team and individual competitions were looking very close. In a brilliant effort, Nolan Hester ran to a third place finish in 15:50. Battling up the final hill, he would lead the charge for the Tigers, with senior Joshua Striegel just behind in 11th overall. A breakout star this year, young sophomore Sami Hattab excelled to a 17th place finish as well, rounding out the All-State Tigers.

Junior Nick Brooks along with Seniors Ryan Burchett, Matthew Wantland, and Liam Rice would complete the team. With a score of 93 points, the Tigers won their 24th State Championship. This was also Coach Kyle Yochum’s first State Championship as head coach. In a year of deviation from normalcy, one constant returned; St. X Cross Country was back on top. 

The State Championship Team following their 24th State Championship victory


State Recap Video by Assistant Coach Mike Garcia: 



With the varsity team going undefeated in Kentucky competition, the Tigers capped off their successful season with a State Championship. The team motto for the year, “Belong,” represented two different aspects of the team. The first was simply coming together as one in order to have a successful, safe season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the second had a much greater meaning amongst the senior class. Bring the State Championship back where it belongs—right here at St. X. 


A Season in Review—St. X XC 2020 by Assistant Coach Mike Garcia: