Mid State CC Championships Recap
Although it's mid October, having a cross country race with sunny and high 70 or 80 degree weather seems to be the norm lately. No different at this years running of the MSCCC race. Some clouds, some humidity (ok, a lot of humidity) and some really fast runners gave those that were there a great day to race. As is the case in a lot of races lately, the large and small schools had their own divisions as well as the JV runners. This is a trend that I hope stays strong in the years to come, and in talking with other coaches, it a big reason why cross country numbers have grown so much in recent years.
Anyways, on to the recap. I'll start backwards on this recap and begin with the last race of the day and that was the Girls A-AA/DII class. Anytime a cross country 5K has athletes finishing within a few seconds of each other you know it was a good race to watch. And although this course wouldn't exactly be considered a spectator friendly course, you get to see a lot of the race if you're willing to tackle some hills yourself and get around quickly. The top two finishers came into the meet with less than full teams on the roster, so they were out there battling on their own in a way. Faith Powell was the fastest of the division finishing first in 21:31.00 and the first of four from Spring Hill. Alexandra Benson of Franklin Christian was right behind her in 21:41.32 and the only runner from the school at this meet. I've had a lot of coaches chastise me about not putting a bit emphasis on the team aspect of cross country, but in this case these girls were proof that it's worth racing cross country even if you are the only one out there for your school.
Of course, as you all know, there is a team title to be had at the meet. Cannon County High school took the girls title with 35 points of the superb running of the team and their 3rd, 4th, 7th, 9th and 12th place team finishers. Pretty impressive running for Amanda Blanco (23:36), Zettie Elrod (23:49), Ade Harwood (25.29), Angela Vassar (25:51) and in the 5th team spot, Isabella Russo in 26:16. Their combination was eleven points ahead of White House-Heritage who finished with 46 points.
The Boys A-AA/DII division was about the same spread at the very top with Micah Willoughby of Agathos taking first in 17:58.66. Averaging 5:47 per mile put Micah ahead of second place finisher Leighton Daniel of Aaron Academy who finished in 18:10.66. That second place race was really tight though as Leighton, Kolten Johnson (Marshall County) and Nathan Mangrum of Friendship Christian all finished within five seconds of each other.
The team title for this class was one of those close ones where you see coaches frantically adding up the finishers to see where their team placed. Donelson Christian, off the lead of Parker Howell who raced to a 19:20.75 took the title. That time was pretty close to Parker's best for the distance and on this hilly and challenging course, really is an impressive race for the athlete. Donelson Christian ended with 104 points followed closely by Spring Hill with 115 points. Spring Hill's performance was boosted with a 5th overall place by Lucas Call who ran 18:26.81 (3rd place for team scoring athletes).
In the Large school division, the girls took off first to start the races this past Saturday. With the likes of Meredith Helton (Brentwood Academy), Landri Wilcox (Cookeville), Gigi Maddox (Fred J. Page), Camille Smith (Central Magnet), Evan Welch (White Co) and a host of other talented mid-state athletes, you knew this was set up to be a fun race to watch. That's exactly what happened. At the first mile, Landri, Camille and Meredith were bunched up and made the lead pack. Right behind them was a couple Ravenwood athletes, Gigi Maddox of Fred J. Page, Faith Brown of Station Camp, and a few others completing that chase pack.
Then the group went into the trees where it's hard to track and watch them race. So it just mattered who would be able to pass or take the lead on the narrow paths through the woods. It's one of those old style courses where they race quickly towards a narrow spot (in this case an opening in the fence) and then head into the woods to duke it out and you just wait until you see who is the first out. Well, in this case it was Meredith Helton of Brentwood Academy who emerged from the woods in the lead to win in an impressive 18:56.04. Cookeville's Landri Wilcox was second in 19:07.31 and in third was Fred J. Page's Gigi Maddox in 19:17.75.
The Ravenwood girls took the top spot with a fairly strong 85 points. Second place was tight with Brentwood High overtaking Franklin High by a close 5 points. 122 to 127 was the final tally for that fight to second.
For the boys AAA, it was going to be interesting. Henry County brothers, Titus and Silas, have been a dominant due all season long and so a lot of people were looking at them to take another 1 - 2 finish. Well, not to keep anything in the air, it ended up being the same finish at this meet. However, for the first couple of miles it didn't look that way. Beech Senior David Ahlmeyer, who eventually came in third to the duo gave a pretty strong run till halfway through the woods and his 5:07 pace was just a little short. However, 15:56.27 and third at this meet, on this really tough course was a strong run. And to make that result even more impressive, that was his fastest 5K to date. Pretty impressive to do it on such a tough course, but that's what it took to get third to the Winders brothers this day.
To the chagrin of Silas, Titus ended up in the top dog spot again to add to the bragging rights at the family dinner table. Titus's time of 15:41.94 was seven seconds ahead of Silas in second with 15:48.97. Silas's time was just a second off of the best time he ran this season at the Brooks Twilight. Titus's time wasn't too close to his PR he ran at the Frank Horton the other week in Memphis, but still an impressive run on this course. These guys are going to be a tough hurdle to pass at the State meet in November, should be fun to watch!
The boys team event was a pretty solid and dominant performance by the Brentwood Academy boys. They finished 98 points ahead of Ravenwood that got the runner up spot. Brentwood's team placed 5th, 6th, 8th, 14th and 16th to gain the title. That is certainly a calling note for the other DII teams planning on making noise at the State championships this season. Matthew Porter (16:30), Matthew McMillan (16:33), George Payne (16:36), Gregory Jackson (17:01) and the fifth finisher for the BA team was Cayden Durrough in 17:04. That's a pretty tightly packed group of fast runners. And yea, a team to watch at the state meet in November for sure!
See you on the track...and the grass!