Credit: Knoxville Youth Athletics
By Chris Kane
10/17/17 Knoxville, TN - Since the fall of 2006, athletes from across the state have come to Knoxville for the Tennessee State Middle School Championships. The meet grew and grew to this point where over 1000 of the finest athletes in Middle School come to show their talent and compete for those All-State certificates and team trophies. Elementary athletes were invited as an exhibition that first year with most of the athletes being younger siblings of those competing in the Middle School race. With 15 boys and 17 girls, it was a modest start. That division has grown to typically exceed the entries of the Middle School division! This growth has immensely helped the High School depth improve to a point that people like myself are thankful to have competed 14 years ago where 16:16 for 3 miles (16:55 or so for 5K) would get 7th in AAA. Now that kind of time would be battling for 25th-30th! Enough about me, time to get to the meet at hand. As a reminder, all predictions are for entertainment purposes and in no way should be taken seriously or in any way is intended to slight anyone! My predictions will be wrong, but it is fun to guess.
Credit: Memphis Youth Athletics
On the girls side, Farmington ES was the standout in the results led by their 1-2 Lindsey Barnes and Anna Tamura they scored just 28 points. They are the defending state champions and are looking poised to contend again. Running 6:09 and 6:21, those low sticks will be handy in a 300+ person race. Looking back in the field, their #5 was 46 seconds back another 4 seconds back to their 9th runner. That security will come in handy if someone isn't having a great day. Dogwood (77 points) and Riverdale (112 points).
Dogwood boys was also led by the individual champion, Andrew Degroot (5:47). They put 3 athletes in the top 10 which led to a score of 56 to take the region title over Farmington (69). Dogwood finished 4th at the state meet last year. Individually Ben Rouse (Holy Rosary) and Porter Spiceland came in top 3 running 5:51-5:52.
The team race on the girls side was limited with only Sulphur Springs which won with 15 points. Marley Caldwell of J Frank White Academy ran away with title winning by 13 seconds over Kale Broyles (Sulphur Springs) 6:08-6:21. Marley didn't race frequently this spring but ran in a couple of KYA regular season meets including where she finished 10th (6:42) to give a good idea where she stacks up on the state meet course. She is also the younger sister of accomplished runner Macy Caldwell.
Same on the boys side in regards to the team race with 2 complete teams. In this race Sullins Academy took a narrow victory over Sulphur Springs 26-30. Gavin Curtain (Ridgeview) was the victor outkicking Jud Stapleton (Sulphur Springs) 5:47-5:49. Hunter Simmons led his team to the title coming in 3rd running 5:56.
Zayleigh Henderson of Thurman Francis took a big improvement over her strong 4th grade year and is now the Mid-State Champion. Running 6:05 is a 20 second improvement is a good sign coming into the State Meet. She was followed closely with Unattached runner Lila Strickland 3 seconds behind. Jack Anderson girls won the region title (35 points) after their 4th place finish at the 2016 State Meet. Will they be in a position to take the title this year? They had a good push for the team title from Macon Co who finished with just 48 points.
Brayden Turner (White House) ran clear of the field winning the boys title in 5:56. Braden Broomfield and Noah Fox both of Frienship Christian were in 2nd and 3rd. There was a nice battle on the guys side with Cannon Co winning over Jack Anderson 31-36. Jack Anderson finished 9th last fall.
Again, this is the largest region with over 1000 athletes participating in the Elementary School races. Jenna Clements of Sacred Heart had a strong race to win the girls race over Madalyn Hillis from Hardin Valley Elementary 6:09-6:14. It was Hillis however who would be celebrating the team title with her teammates. With just 30 points in such a deep field, they will certainly be in contention to win. Their average of 6:31 is 5 seconds off what Farmington averaged to win last year. They placed 3rd last year. Farragut finished 41 points back after finishing 7th last year.
Credit: Leisure Pools USA
Keegan Smith was familiarly the first across the line as he was undefeated all season and setting course records every week including the state meet course. He won the region title in 5:02 which is 20 seconds faster than his State Meet time last. If he can take the title Saturday, he will be the first 3 time state champion in the history of this meet. Cade Crum (West Hills) and Nicholas Burke (Sequoyah) finished behind Keegan in 5:38-5:39. Those times would be around 5th place last year. Hardin Valley won another region title setting up for a defense of their team trophy last year. They scored just 46 points in a 586 athlete field. Farragut who finished runner up was also runner up at last year's state meet.
Sophia Brame-Goldthwaite from Head ran strong and took the title running 6:28 to win over Lia Banovac of Edmundson in 6:40. St Matthew School who placed 5th last year won the region title winning with a small total of 34 points. Scales held off Edmundson by 6 points with 48 and 54 points.
Callahan Fielder (Scales) who finished 13th last year at the state meet is ready to finish in the top 5 after he ran 6:03. The reason we know that capability is because last year's 5th place finish at state Cade Deterding (Rossview) finished second in 6:09. Expect both of these athletes to push the front of the pack. Fielder got to enjoy the team title as well as Scales won with 41 points to win by 18 over Hunters Bend and JT Moore who went to the tiebreaker with Hunters Bend winning that.
Finally, our trip around the state puts us at Moccasin Bend. Fiona Cisto from Nolan raced to the title winning in 7:10 over Lilly Catalanotto (Unattached) who ran 7:13. Nolan took the team title over last year's 12th place team The Bright School 76-89. Is Nolan ready to be top 10 after not qualifying last year?
Andrew Smith (Boyd Buchanan) ran 6:31 to win over CSTHEA leader Hayden Priddy (6:35). On a challenging course it was CSTHEA who took the team title narrowly over NPMM 45-47. Last fall it was NPMM finishing 13th and CSTHEA 15th at the state meet. Expect them to finish close again this year.
Lindsey Barnes (Farmington)
Sophia Brame-Goldthwaite (Head)
Zayleigh Henderson (Thurman Francis)
Jenna Clements (Sacred Heart)
Lia Banovac (Edmundson)
Anna Tamura (Farmington)
Madalyn Hillis (Hardin Valley Elementary)
Fiona Cisto (Nolan)
Marley Caldwell (J Frank White Academy)
Marilyn Morton (White Station)
Hardin Valley Elementary
St Matthew School
Keegan Smith (Sacred Heart)
Callahan Fielder (Scales)
Cade Deterding (Rossview)
Andrew Degroot (Dogwood)
Andrew Smith (Boyd Buchanan)
Gavin Curtain (Ridgeview)
Brayden Turner (White House)
Ben Rouse (Holy Rosary)
Cade Crum (West Hills)
Nicholas Burke (Sequoyah)
Hardin Valley Elementary
Dinah Winders (Lakewood MS) comes from one of the best running families in Tennessee. Dinah and her brothers have combined to take 2 Middle School and 3 Elementary Individual Champion trophies home along with 17 All-State Certificates. She is coming off a region title along with a TMSAA Championship in the small school division. Another athlete to watch is Zoe Marsh from Houston. She's currently the top ranked 6th grader in the state and comes from a team with a history of success. She finished 3rd in the Elementary State Championship last year. Houston won the team title with just 22 points. After their runner-up finish last fall, they are poised to contend for the champion plaque. They will lean on their top 4 who had a spread of just 26 seconds. Collierville was 32 points back but they were 88 points ahead of 3rd. A top 10 finish would not be out of the question.
Alex Grusin from St Louis Catholic and Caleb Skinner competing Unattached have clearly improved on last year where they finished 40th and 30th respectively. They were clear of the field running 11:32 and 11:36. Houston came to Knoxville and finished 13th last year. They have regrouped and are ready to break into the top 5-10. Scoring just 33 points to win by 42 of St Louis Catholic, Houston swept the team titles.
Morgan Dalton from George Wythe had a strong race to take the title at the Trailblazer Invitational. She ran 12:17 to win over Jessica Minix (West View) and Ashlyn Roy (Jr Pioneers) who ran 12:44 and 12:45. Roy was the final All-State athlete last year finishing 20th. Minix has improved greatly as she finished 50th at state in 2016. It was West View who ran away with the team race scoring just 24 points and winning by 40 over Holston. West View has a storied history at this meet. They look like they are ready to run like those state champion teams of the past. They were 14th last year.
Gray MS had the in-town favorite Conner Wingfield defend his home turf and win by a strong margin of 27 seconds running 11:00. Sam Ross (West View) held off Brando Resendiz from Lincoln Heights. It was Resendiz celebrating with is team as they won the team title by just 1 point over Holston.
Hope Ilias (Friendship Christian) has been a force for several years now as she was the runner up last year and finished 4th in 2015. In her final MS year, she is looking to take the title as she won the region in 12:10 taking the victory by 24 seconds. She won over Ella Phillips from Oakland who finished 22nd last year. Oakland led by Phillips are looking to improve on their 8th place finish last year and look poised to do just that as they won the title over Cookeville 49 to 67.
Michael Bass of Blackman managed to run away from Aaron Gottlied from Dekalb Co to win his first region title. Bass ran 12:06 to win by 7 seconds. Gottlied looks to improve on his 105th place finish last year and with that year of experience, a top 20-30 finish for him seems reasonable along with Bass. Cookeville came in and did not mess around. They managed to take the team title by 55 points over Oakland 65-121. Both teams qualified for state and look to improve on their finishes with more depth.
Credit: Knoxville Youth Athletics
Andie-Marie Jones (far right above) who competes from Maryville is no stranger to the front of the race. She is undefeated this fall after finishing 3rd last year at State. She has run 12:29 and 12:31 on the state course and won the TMSAA Large School division a couple of weeks ago. The closest athlete to her has been her teammate Kelly Wetteland who finished in 12:43 at the region meet. She finished 4th last year. Marley Townsend (Bearden) was 3rd in 13:02 after finishing 15th last year. 7th place at state in 2015 Lexi Foley from Farragut finished just 7th at the region this year so we will see if she can improve to break the top 5. Knoxville Ambassadors who finished 3rd last year at state won the region team title with 70 points over Farragut and Bearden (100 and 103). Farragut finished in 4th at state a year ago.
Trevor Coggin of Farragut was the top 6th grader at the state meet last year finishing 10th. He is ready to move in to a title contending position winning the region title in 11:43. Daniel Blackston of Karns and Kaden Keller (Cedar Bluff) are also athletes who could slip into a top 10 position on the right day after finishing in 2nd and 3rd at the region. Karns managed to win their first region title over the defending state champions in Farragut. Both teams seems destined for top 5 or even top 3 positions but its all about how well you can maintain composure in large crowds.
The top 5 returning athletes in the girls race have been mentioned already except for Sophia Rutherford of Brentwood. She finished 6th at state and dominated her region meet winning in 12:16. Her Brentwood team is also the defending champions and look ready to do defend just that. They scored an astonishing 17 points with all 5 scoring members in the top 8. Mia Andrews (HG Hill) and Brooke Tyll (Brentwood) finished in the other top 3 positions running 12:37 and 12:43. Davidson Academy came up to finish 2nd with 77 points.
Connor Henson (Columbia Academy) has thrown his hat in the individual title ring running 10:57 and showing improvement over his 9th place state finish where he is the top returner. Litton packed in 3 runners behind Henson with Robert Correia, Paul McCown and Jack Hibbs. With that strong of a pack, its no surprise that they won the team title with 42 points over St Matthew School (58 points) who was the state runners-up last year. Litton, if their #5 has a good day, could contend for top 5.
Hannah Faudi (CSTHEA) has been a top competitor at this meet for awhile after finishing top 30 as a 6th grader last year, she looks to be top 10 this year. Madeline Wheatcroft ran side by side with her teammate to finish second one second back 12:12-12:13. Mae Mae Powe (St Jude) finished runner up in the Elementary Division last year and looks to break into the middle school ranks with an All-State finish. CSTHEA scored a perfect 15 points to win over GPS. They were 6th last year and should finish top 5.
CSTHEA swept the individual titles as Leul Barnes won in 11:03 to outpace Gabe Placer (Unattached) who was 3 seconds back. Barnes was just 59th last year but should be contending with Placer for an All-State Certificate. Baylor with a strong top 5 finished with 31 points to defeat last year's 4th place team CSTHEA who scored 56 just two points ahead of McCallie who was 3rd last year. Team-wise, this region always places well.
TMSAA State Meet
The girls' individual champions Dinah Winders (Class A) and Andie-Marie Jones (Class AA) have been mentioned above. Brianna Burgess (Charlotte)(Class A) and Kelly Wetteland (Class AA) mentioned above were runners-up. Jose Perez (Fairview)(Class A) won the individual title and Conner Wingfield who finished runner-up is mentioned above. Jacob Rutledge (Coffee Co)(Class AA) and Joe Neglia (John Sevier) were 1-2 in the large school division. Neglia is a familiar name as Sasha (sister) was a MS state champion and is currently one of the top athletes in the state.
Inman Girls (Class A), Liberty Bell Girls (Class AA), Fairview Boys (Class A), Mt Juliet Boys (Class AA) were the team champions for their division. Mt Juliet has been a frequent attendee of the state meet and their boys placed 6th last year.
Hope Ilias (Friendship Christian)
Andie-Marie Jones (Maryville)
Kelly Wetteland (Maryville)
Dinah Winders (Lakewood)
Sophia Rutherford (Brentwood)
Morgan Dalton (George Wythe)
Zoe Marsh (Houston)
Hannah Faudi (CSTHEA)
Marley Townsend (Bearden)
Madeline Wheatcroft (CSTHEA)
Connor Henson (Columbia Academy)
Trevor Coggin (Farragut)
Alex Grusin (St Louis Catholic)
Connor Wingfield (Gray)
Daniel Blackston (Karns)
Robert Correia (Litton)
Michael Bass (Blackman)
Leul Barnes (CSTHEA)
Caleb Skinner (Unattached)
Gabe Placer (Unattached
These are my own predictions and I also predict that I will be wrong. We are excited for all the best athletes across the state to join us in Knoxville in a couple days!