2012 TN State Cross Country Championships
The Percy Warner course is a very spectator friendly course. If you’re willing, you can run from one side to another and up and down hills to get a glimpse of your favorite athlete. If you’re an athlete, well, this course has its moments. Although from a spectator’s point of view, the course doesn’t seem that hilly, but it is. And with the course being wide open, the wind will sometimes play games with you too. With that said, the times at these championships don’t always give you a good feeling that you are watching some extremely talented athletes tearing up a tough course.
The top five in the boys AAA race ran most of the distance in a pretty tightly packed group. Pretty tight race most of the way between Aaron Templeton (Harding Valley), Quintin McKinnish (Morristown West), Brock Baker (Oakland), Alec Thomas (Brentwood), and Roderick Bowman (Daniel Boone). Once they reach the top of that last hill and took the left turn towards the finish, you can see Aaron surging to the lead and basically pulling away from most of the pack but with Quintin right on his heels. Aaron finally finished with the win in a great time of 15:52.67, which was the fastest time by AAA boys since 2009 but a bit off the record of 15:39 set in 2008.
The Brentwood boys (AAA) were the ones to beat at this meet though. They scored with 3rd, 7th, 8th, 10th and their fifth in 24th scoring positions. Leading them was Alec (16:00.70), and then Aaron (16:24.70), Taylor Caldwell (16:33.16), Coleman Churitch (16:39.47) and finishing off this impressive team was Daniel Hamm (17:17.49). Their 52 points beat out Daniel Boone (61) and Hardin Valley’s 79 points.
Nicole Gardner of Siegel led the way to cross the finish line first with an impressive 18:44.13. Nicole had to fight hard to get that lead though, since the early stages of the race was led by Bailee Dean (Cane Ridge) and McMinn County’s Haley Ward. Both girls fought hard and stayed neck and neck for the most part of the first half of the race but couldn’t shake off a strong second half by Nicole. Bailee ended up in second with an 18:47 and Haley third with 19:08. Finishing off the top five were Morristown West’s Makenzie Jones (19:35, 4th) and Region 7 winner Chelsea Ladd of Dyer County (19:40). Nicole’s time gave her the 11th overall fastest time at State and also the fastest time across all divisions this year. An exciting race considering the weather turned a bit warm and windy by the time the AAA girls ran.
Even though their first girl came in 10th overall, the Ravenwood team routed the team title with 90 points, which was 59 ahead of Siegel and 79 ahead of third place team Morristown West.
But as all the competition was going on, a nice seen happened near the middle of the pack. Two Rhea Country girls and a Soddy Daisy girl stopped to help a Science Hill girl as she stumbled and collapsed within fifty feet of the finish line. Maybe they remembered the starter’s instructions when he said that anyone falling or stumbling backwards at the finish line will be assisted by one of the officials and would then be disqualified from the race. Since these girls were so close near the finish line, it seems to me like they were probably pretty competitive throughout the race and were likely out there trying to beat each other across the line. But on this one afternoon, at the most important race of the season, they decided to help their competitor cross the finish and not get disqualified. That to me is what real competition is like, no trash, no bounties, no junk… fight hard and compete hard but when your competitor needs help, you help. Truly a wonderful sight.
In the A-AA races, the girl’s race was handily won by Lipscomb Academy’s Barbra Bell. Barbara finished over a minute ahead of second place finisher Jessica Clarke (20:16, CPA) and had a time of 19:09. As in just about every cross country race anybody runs, it isn’t won until the finish line is broke. But in this case, Barbara took the lead at the very beginning and just kept slowly moving farther and farther ahead as the meters ticked off. Nobody was going to catch her as she looked stronger on each stride she took. By all standards, it was an impressive race. And then, as the crowd cheered her on, she started on a finishing kick up the hill by the finish line that was even more remarkable. Some say it’s hard to run way out in front of your competitors, it’s hard to keep that lead but in Barbara’s case, she not only kept it, she stretched it out as much as she could.
Coming in third was Sarah Zimmer (CAK, 20:16), fourth was Claudia Smith (Central Magnet, 20:35) and fifth was Kailey Schuyler (Columbia Academy, 20:42). These girls were also impressive as they finished their races pretty tightly bunched. The team results were also fairly tightly packed. Christian Academy of Knoxville won with 96 points, followed by only 4 points more was Macon County (100 points), and Obion County made third with 124 points. These girls had the honor of being the last girl’s race of the day and they certainly made it an exciting one to watch.
The A-AA boys race wasn’t a runaway by any means with the top 3 finishers all within about 3 seconds of each other. Sam Klockenkemper of Martin Luther King was the overall winner with a time of 16:34.88 and was followed – very closely – by Central Magnet’s Andre Hillsman and they – very closely again – by Greenville’s Wesley Pectol. Second place time was 16:38.36 and third was 16:38.44 – a difference of only 0.08 of a second and clearly a photo finish for both boys. Finishing up the top five were Corley Webb (Lipscomb Academy, 16:56) and Ben Moroney (Trinity Christian, 16:58). Fun to watch races when they’re that close! The boy’s team results were also just as exciting with the lead runner for each team all getting top 3 places in the race. Greeneville, led by 3rd place finisher Wesley Pectol, made the podium on top with 93 points. Martin Luther King, with winner Sam Klockenkemper leading them, took second with 108 points and then third place was grabbed by Central Magnet, led by second place finisher Andre Hillsman. Central missed second by just three points, ending up with 110 points overall.
The Girls Div II-AA race had to be tagged as the youngest of the bunch. There was only one Senior among the top 10 finishers with two of the top 10 from the 8th grade and two in the 9th grade. And considering the spread between first and tenth place was only about a minute and a quarter apart, this this race is going to be a fun one to watch for many years to come. Another impressive note, St. Agnes, and Baylor both had two girls finishing inside the top 10. But scary for the rest of the teams, Brentwood had three in the top 10 and both of the 8th graders on their team this year. Leading Brentwood was Allison Cheeseman with a 19:18 that put her on the top spot on the podium. Next in line was St. Benedict’s Mayson Morrissett (19:35), third was Emma Sloan (Ensworth, 19:45), fourth was Reagan Freeman (Harpeth Hall) and finishing fifth was Lauralys Shallow of St. Agnes.
If you were watching the start of the Div II AA race, you couldn’t help but notice that the Harpeth Hall girls were out in force to cheer on their cross country team. I had a count of about 30 cheering girls, but more kept showing up and growing the group that I gave up on counting and settled for just listening to them cheer on their school’s team.
Unfortunately for Harpeth Hall, the cheering group couldn’t help hold back Baylor from taking the team title with 60 points. But it wasn’t easy, Brentwood Academy was second with 63 points and they had to resort to a tie breaker for 3rd with both Harpeth and St. Agnes gaining 82 points and Harpeth getting the nod for third. This race had to be a nail biter for the coaches as the girls were so tightly packed, trying to keep track of who came in when and what team had how many – wow, too close to figure things out as you cheer and encourage your athletes to finish strong.
On the boys Div II AA race, Baylor School’s Simon Holden took the lead and won cleanly with a time of 16:06.81. Simon was followed by Derek Barnes (McCallie, 16:24), then in third and fourth were Brentwood Academy’s Andrew Bull (16:30) and Brown Bailey(16:33) and in fifth was Ramsay Ritchie of McCallie with a time of 16:35. The way these boys ran and packed the top ten made the team race a super exciting one also. McCallie had five finishers in the top ten and that gave them the win over a close second Brentwood Academy. Brentwood had four in the top 10 (their fifth was 11th place). With such a tight group, you just knew the team title was going to be a nail biter. It certainly was since the top two teams were just 3 points apart with McCallie leading the way with 34 points and Brentwood Academy second with 37 points. Baylor finished third with a good score of 127 points but was overshadowed by how close the first two teams finished. Some people say that cross country team scoring can sometimes be a bit less than exciting but that was not the case at these State Championship races.
Webb School of Knoxville was the clear favorite for the D2 A class as their girls took the top two finishing places and lead the way for the team title too. First across the line for them was Peighton Meske (19:30.59) and next across was Madeline Christian (19:58.13). Although this is a smaller schools division and a smaller field, the racing was not small. The University Schools were tight and took second and third in the team division. USN came in second with 87 points and followed closely by USJ with 92 points. However, Webb’s 40 points made their close race look fairly timid.
With a time of 20:20, USJ”s Kala Puzdrakiewicz had a good view of the finish and came in third overall. Following her was Chandler Washburn of Franklin Road Academy (20:26) and in fifth was Emily Peters of Saint Cecilia (20:33).
In the Boys Div 2 A race, Webb School of Knoxville was again the team to beat. Looks like the boys will have the bragging rights this year because they almost halved the girls team points by getting a super good score of only 21 points. Having the top three finishers overall really helped to get that score, but having all seven of their team members finishing in the top 11 spots overall – well, let’s just say it was a dominating performance by that team no matter which way you look at it. Another scary point for their competitors, three 9th graders, two 10th graders, one 11th grader and 8th place finisher Townes Bouchard-Dean was the lone senior on the team. Yes, that is a team in control. And this also is a very young division and one that will be competitive for a long time. For the boys though (a flip-flop of the girls results), the University school of Jackson made second place and University School of Nashville pegged a third.
The top three from Webb School of Knoxville were Elliot Baerman (16:59.34), Nathan Wolfenbarger (17:21.32), and Reece Rose (17:25.65). The top five finishers were pretty closely matched, all within thirty seconds of each other – and less than 10 seconds separating 2nd place to 5th place.
The 2012 version of the TN State Cross Country Championships was really a lot of exciting races to watch. There were eight different races ran and only three were won by Seniors. I believe it is very apparent that we will have a lot of exciting races to watch in the coming years.