Coughlin, Neglia Lead Fast Field at Cherokee

The Cherokee Classic always provides some of the fastest times in the state every cross country season. This year's race was no exception.

Carter Coughlin and Sasha Neglia paced a quick field over the weekend at the Cherokee Classic in Knoxville.

Both runners were quick off the line, getting out to a good start on the flat course. 

In the girls race, Neglia came in as the favorite. After winning the 3A state championship last season as a freshman, she looks ready to take the next step. Her time of 18:01 is the best mark in the state so far this season.

Neglia won by 11 seconds, out-running Knoxville Catholic's Shila Kapaya. But Kapaya's 18:12 is the second fastest time run in the state of Tennessee this season behind Neglia's winning time.

When you take a look at the top ten times run so far in this young season, there are a lot of performances from the Cherokee Classic.

Seven of the ten fastest girls times run so far this season happened in Knoxville over the weekend. 

In the team battle, Dobyns Bennett, led by Neglia's first place finish, put up impressive numbers. DB won the meet with 58 points, averaging a 19:17. 

To put into perspective just how fast that is, 19:17 as an individual is a top-25 time in the state right now. Right now, Dobyns Bennett is the fastest team in the state, followed by Hardin Valley.

1Dobyns Bennett High School (TN)106
1) Sasha Neglia18:01.771
2) Ellie Hall19:27.5018
3) Morgan Cordell19:33.1723
4) Emma Russum19:34.8425
5) Meg Davis19:49.0339
Average Time: 19:17.26 Total Time: 1:36:26.31 1-5 Split: 1:47.26
6) Gracie Allen20:12.5161
7) Julianna McReynolds21:02.06112
2Hardin Valley Academy (TN)188
1) Cathryn Jardet18:35.096
2) Madison Grimm19:37.0428
3) Ellie Bachmann19:44.2637
4) Jenna Wall19:49.9840
5) Kensi Gray20:31.4077
Average Time: 19:39.55 Total Time: 1:38:17.77 1-5 Split: 1:56.31
6) Taylor Van Hout21:08.52121
7) Shanna Lambert22:15.47214

In the boys race, Coughlin's time is almost identical to Ben Varghese's winning time at the Cherokee Classic last season. Coughlin was second a year ago, but was first to the line in 15:12 on Saturday.

He was followed by Knoxville Catholic's 1-2 punch of Jake Renfree and Devin Sullivan.

After losing Georde Goodwyn, who's now running for the University of Tennessee, Catholic had a lot to replace. But Sullivan has stepped up to fill Renfree's role as the strong number two. Meanwhile, Renfree has become the frontrunner the Irish need to win another A-AA state title.

But the real story was Oakland. The Patriots used their small 1-5 split to outscore Knoxville Catholic, bringing the team title back to Murfreesboro.

Oakland, coming off a second place finish at the Voyles Classic, was paced by David Carlton, Brice Walkowski and Ryan Phillips, who all finished within a second of each other. That trio finished 10th through 12th, giving their team enough to win.

Like the girls race, the boys competition featured some of the fastest times run in Tennessee this season.

There aren't many courses that run faster than Cherokee, but nonetheless, this meet provides good experience to athletes across the state. We'll likely see many of these times stay in our top ten for weeks to come.