The first weekend in October begins the final month of preparation before the state championship in Nashville.
It's a big weekend to run fast times and set yourself up well for postseason racing.
The Jesse Owens Classic in Decatur, Alabama is one of the best atmospheres for cross country in the Southeast.
The course is flat, the times are usually fast, and the competition is always electric. The opportunity to run a good time on such a flat course in October is invaluable come postseason time. The confidence gained from running a big PR this time of year could make a huge difference come November.
Jesse Owens will give us another contested matchup between Brentwood High and Brentwood Academy. Other notable teams joining those two will be Bartlett, Independence, Ravenwood, Riverdale, and Wilson Central.
With those prestigious teams, expect big things from this meet.
Last weekend, there was action all across the state.
At Frank Horton in Memphis, senior Luke McNair led Bartlett High School to a close team title over West Plains High School. West Plains, a school from Missouri, had the top three finishers, but Bartlett kept its 1-5 split under a minute, helping them secure the victory.
In the girls race, Houston's Ella Baran took him the individual championship with a 18:17, followed by Arlington's Erica Fisher (18:48) and Skylar Boogerd (19:05).
Houston grabbed the team title with 66 points, averaging 20:18 to beat out West Plains by seven points.
Moving east to Smyrna, the Sharps Springs Invitational featured a lesson in pack running.
A tight pack from Sovereign Grace won the race with 70 points and a 17:13 average. The group was separated by a mere 15 seconds, led by Liam and Luke Morel. The Morel brothers finished 9th and 10th with Liam running 17:04 and Luke closely behind in 17:05.
Centennial sophomore Davis Bove took the individual title in 16:05.
The girls race featured another strong performance from Riverdale's Emma McClellan, who won the race in 18:33. Central Magnet's Taylor Cuneo finished second in 19:23.
Brentwood High School took the team title, led by Caroline Cherry (4th place) and Beth Donnelly (6th place).
Finally, heading east to Chattanooga, the McCallie XC Invite featured a dominant team performance by the Brentwood Academy girls.
Led by Claire Cheeseman and Meredith Helton, who finished second and third, the Eagles put up 32 points, averaging a 19:41. The King's Academy's Niamh Schumacher won the race in 17:57 ahead of Cheeseman's 18:35.
The guys race was led by Meyer Makemson from Independence, who won in 16:28, one second ahead of Jonathan Boyd in second. Led by Makemson's performance, the Independence Eagles took the team trophy with 34 points.
State may be a month away for the high schoolers, but it is upon us in the middle school ranks.
The TMSAA State Cross Country Meet kicks off next Saturday in Clarksville, with qualifiers going on this weekend.
There are a couple names to look out for, starting with Landri Wilcox, an 8th grade girl from Cookeville. Wilcox has the fastest time in the state this year, running an 11:40 3200 meter race at the McCallie XC Invite. Houston Middle School's Felicity Bost holds the fastest time in the 2 mile run, with her 12:17.
Nick Sieders, an 8th grader from St. Matthews Catholic School is the favorite to win the boys race. Sieders has run a 10:57 this year, making him the only boy to break 11 minutes in middle school this year. MBA's Luke Mryncza should challenge for the title as well.