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Heritage finishes best among Blount County schools at Cherokee

Heritage finishes best among Blount County schools at Cherokee

Posted by Christopher James on September 06, 2009
* The Daily Times 9/5/09 -

KNOXVILLE -- Rookie Heritage cross country coach Kelli Barnes saw her high preseason expectations justified Saturday at the Cherokee Classic.

The Mountaineers placed the top Blount County finishers in the season kickoff at Sequoyah Hills Park. Sophomore Lauren Barnes (20:37.4) had a top-10 finish in the girls event, but it was classmate Cody Wagner's 32nd-place finish (18:18.1) that might've been just as impressive.

"That's the best time I've ever ran," Wagner said. "I was just looking to not fall over. I want to get down to 18 minutes this year."

Wagner, only a sophomore, almost reached his season goal in one day, shaving 12 seconds off his best time last year. The Mountaineers finished 18th out of 28 teams, best among the three county schools. Alcoa was 21st behind Eric Honabach (19:17.0) and William Blount finished 22nd with Shawn Thompson (18.50.7) leading the way. Maryville did not participate. Webb's Lucas Jones won the meet in 16:43.9. Farragut won the team meet.

In girls action, Barnes, 18th in the state last year as a freshman, was eighth. The Lady Mountaineers had two others in the top 100, Melissa Parham (23:19.3) and Kayla Walker (24:09.1), to cap a 12th-place finish out of 22 squads. Catholic's Megan Ferowich won in 18:30.6. WB's Olivia Edwards was 50th in 23:00.5. Teammate Sarah Wilson was 59th in 23:22.8, giving the Lady Govs 14th overall. Alcoa had just one runner, Allie Phelps, who finished in 32:30.5. Dobyns-Bennett took the girls title.

"I have high hopes for November," Barnes said. "I told them that from the start. (The state meet) needs to be their goal, to either make it individually or as a team."

Barnes' daughter, Lauren, got her sophomore season off to a solid start. While the younger Barnes was hoping for a faster time, she was still happy with the first meet of the year.

"I was shooting for under 20, but this is good enough," Lauren Barnes said. "I just never want to get above this. My goals for this year is State. I want to get to State again and at least get top 15."

November potential looks just as bright for the Tornadoes with Eric Honabach's 62nd-place finish Saturday. The junior improved his time from last year's state meet by nearly 30 seconds.

"I thought it was unbelievable," Alcoa coach Joel Kirk said. "That was his second best time, off by a second. For the first meet, that's pretty good."

The meet served as an affirmation for some teams, but a wakeup call for the Governors, who had finished in the top 10 each year, coach Chris Frary said. The 12-spot drop told Thompson his team needs to train harder. The Govs only other runner in the top 100 was Mason Weisneck, who was 84th in 19:36.2.

"I'm a little disappointed in my time," Thompson said. "I'm going to do better. I'm going to train ten times harder to make sure I demolish that time."

Thompson has tough shoes to fill at the top of the roster, with both John Greene and Travis Wilson now running in college. Frary said both of his squads need some extra training. On the girls side, the coach said he was disappointed to see his lead pack of five spread out after running together well in practice. There is plenty of room for the Lady Govs to improve, he said.

"We're going to have to tighten up our belts a little bit and get to work," Frary said.