Launay wins John Freeman Invitational
Posted October 16, 2009
For the first time since 2004, a Webb School runner was the first to cross the finish line at the annual John Freeman Invitational Cross Country Meet, held Thursday, Oct. 15 at The Webb School in Bell Buckle.
The invitational is named in honor of a Webb School student who was killed in an automobile/train accident in 2003. John Freeman’s surviving mother, Patsy Freeman, was on-hand Thursday and personally handed out trophies to the two top runners in both the boys and girls categories.
Webb senior Damien Launay of Shelbyville was the overall meet champion, winning with a time of 18:10. He completed the race a full minute and 33 seconds before his closest competitor, Gorardo Mullins, of Shelbyville Central High School, who had a finish time of 19:43. Jessica York, a Webb School student, also did well at the 2009 meet. She won the second-place trophy for the girls’ team with a time of 22:31.
“I am very proud of our runners, who ran through the wet lands of our course today,” said Effie Rose, head cross-country coach for The Webb School. “Mrs. Freeman was ecstatic that a Webb student won the race.”
Launay is relatively new to the sport, this being only his second year to run on the team. Despite this fact, he has excelled; Launay has placed high at several meets this year.
Prior to Thursday’s meet he said he felt he had a “good chance” to win and the willpower to do it.
“I was determined,” he said. “It’s our invitational and I felt like it was kind of due time that we win it.”
Given the fact that Freeman was a Webb student and member of the cross-country team at the time of his death, Launay said the win was particularly significant to him, his mother Debbie Atterholt, and other Webb School fans.
“Mrs. Freeman said the way I run was resembling of the way John ran,” Launay said. “It was pretty emotional.”
The last time a Webb student won the meet was in 2004, when then Webb senior Matthew Wells crossed the finish line with a time of 17:28. Webb's boys' team took the top five places that year, sweeping the competition.
Other top Webb runners at the 2009 meet included Hayden Cliché, who earned a fourth-place award for the boys’ team with a time of 20:30 and Ellen Williams, who came in fourth-place for the Webb girls with a time of 24:25.