D2-AA State Meet Preview

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D2 AA Preview

When you break 19 minutes in the girls cross country arena, you tend to get noticed.  There are two girls in the D2AA division with sub 19 times this season.  Well, way under nineteen that is!  And when they are on the same team, well, that tends to get even more notice!   Brentwood Academy teammates Claire Cheeseman (18:05) and Meredith Helton (18:32) sit atop the rankings in this division.  I've seen both these girls run in the past and have no doubt they should be one and two Saturday.  And really, looking down the list for this division, BA is peppered all over the top of the rankings.  That easily puts these girls as the favorite to win the team division.  Caroline Archer (19:27, #4 rank), Elizabeth Heckman (19:47, #5 rank), and Kylie Wittman (20:17, #11 rank) make up top five runners for this solid group of athletes. 


Carley Braman of Girls Preparatory School is squeezed in at the #3 spot in the rankings after having run a 19:13.12 earlier this season.  And she's squeezed in-between four BA girls, Caroline and Elizabeth.  But I doubt that makes this very strong runner nervous since she's coming into the meet having a very good year with that 19:13 her career PR for the distance.  This will be her 3rd time at the State meet and she has improved her place every time, so I would imagine she'll be motivated to continue that trend for sure.

I had read that the number six ranked girl for this division, Caroline Daniel of Harpeth Hall, is unfortunately out for the season with a stress fracture and so that slips Harpeth Hall down a touch but still look for them to have a good team showing as they usually do.  With that news, Elizabeth Singleton (20:05.05) and Alex Massey (20:05.51) will have to lead the Harpeth Hall team on Saturday.  With Elizabeth the senior among these two and Alex fairly green to the sport, there should be some great dynamics going on here to possibly pull this team up higher than expected. 

Following Carley of GPS, Kate McVay (20:04) and teammates will need to make a strong push to creep up into a chance at runner up spot in the team title.  However, Addison Smith (20:08) and Allison Anderson (20:23) should be the lead runners for a Baylor team that I believe should get the runner up plaque this season.  All five of the Baylor girls are in the top 20 of the divisions ranking.  Belle Wilson (20:41), Catherine Cansler (20:42) and Emrick Garrett (21:03) ranked at 14th, 15th and 19th make for a pretty strong team. 

I'd also keep an eye out on Hutchison's Nora Tillmanns who has run a 20:40.07 this season and ran 20:46 on the course last year.  Nora had a good track season last year and hasn't run many races this cross country season but she is slowing showing improvement across a lot of distances and so could be a surprise this Saturday.  Nora is likely to be the first Memphis area finisher for this division with St. Agnes runner Rebecca Calderoni (20:51) the second best out of the area.  Briarcrest's Hannah Fisher has been steadily improving her times and took a big PR at the Chile Pepper race earlier that could push her higher up the finish as well.   

I'm just wondering if you break down how the team standings come out, if we might just see a few localized battles going on.  Baylor and GPS could be locked into a tight push for the runner up spot and even for bragging rights in the Chattanooga area!  It could really be tight.  And normally we see a strong Memphis showing by the St. Agnes girls.  This season they're in a bit of a rebuilding period but I fully expect them to show up as the top Memphis group across the line.  Their competition might just be from a resurging Briarcrest Christian team too. 

Overall though, there will be a crowd of Brentwood Academy, Baylor, GPS and Harpeth Hall girls crossing the finish line first.  So team standings look like Brentwood Academy will take the lead with Baylor following.  Then we will probably see a really tight race between Baylor, Harpeth Hall and GPS for the bronze spot.  This division has some superb athletes competing and I fully expect Claire Cheeseman to defend her title here and Meredith Helton to be right there with her at the finish line to lead their BA team to the team title. 

Now onto the boys D2AA preview.  And I'll start off in an odd fashion, with this...

There once was a cross country team from BA

Who've never have a bad running day

With numerous workouts of fartlek, tempo, and long

This team has grown assured, fast, and strong

It would seem that their fate

On this early November date

Is to hoist the trophy at State!


Ok, I know, keep my day job!  So can you guess who I've pegged to be the top dogs in the Boys D2-AA division?  Carter Cheeseman's 15:28.15 is the best posted time this season for this, the larger private schools division.  And with four more Brentwood Academy athletes ranked in the top ten that makes for a pretty easy call for the team trophy by the way.  Davis Holliday (15:46.27), Matthew Porter (16:01.50), Sam Elwood (16:32.17) and Matthew McMillan (16:35.27) round out this group of guys that clearly are the strength of the division.  Matthew set his PR this season and is just a second away from breaking under 16 minutes for the 5K.  And of course, should one of these guys stumble, there are still a slew of other athletes that are likely to step right up for this team. 

With that many teammates running so well, it would appear Carter has the edge coming into the race.  Maybe not though.  Will Peters of Montgomery Bell has an impressive running resume and when it comes to the track distances, which are great indicators of speed, he certainly is impressive.  That might just equate to a very fast finish this year as the runners come off that last steep hill and head home on the steeplechase course.  A couple of years ago, Carter came onto the scene as an 8th grader to go just ahead of Will by less than a second.  Father Ryan's Jack Clunan (16:11.83) and Jonathan Conricode (16:19.68) could put their talents together to put some pressure on the leaders as well.  Both these Father Ryan athletes have some impressive track stats and are setting PR's this season in the grass and they should be within touch distance during this race, if not at the lead! 

There are also a few from the Memphis area that could put on a show as well.  Christian Brothers Kyle Edwards is a senior that is leading this impressive Purple Wave team to some great performances this season.  Kyle just set a PR at the Fast Cats Classic with a 16:20.05.  His teammate, Zach Brazil, in the same race matched that feat as well setting his new PR at 16:41.40.  Running at the head of the arrow for the Briarcrest team is senior James Basse with a career PR as well at the Chile Pepper festival with his 16:37.97.  All these guys are running strong and I'd expect all to be top ten finishers at this Saturday's race. 


I would exaggerate a little and say even if they oversleep, the Brentwood Academy boys - just like the girls - should win the team trophy this year.  They are that good.  And similar to last year's D2AA competition, the race for second is going to be a very tough call to make.   Father Ryan, Christian Brothers, and Montgomery Bell all have a chance of grabbing the runner up spot this season.  They all have athletes fully capable of getting course best times this year.  If you take a straight shot using the rankings, then MBA seems to have an edge.  But using career best times for each runner, then Christian Brothers comes out ahead.  And so it goes, I do think it will be a huge gut check that will decide who prevails this Saturday.

One last thing I've noticed is that most of these guys' best times of the season came early on in October and not many later in the month.  That could mean these guys will be rusty or it could mean they're rested and anxious to race!  Let's hope it's the later.


See you at the Steeplechase course!

Coach Ted