Area athletes from the greater Knoxville area combined with athletes from all 4 corners of the state to prove who the best runners in the state were. Across 6 races with Knoxville kids (8 total) the area came away with 2 individual state champions and 2 team state champions!
The meet started early with the AAA girls race. Emma Mashburn of Hardin Valley Academy led side by side with eventual champion Bailee Dean of Cane Ridge before falling back but still nabbing her second cross country all-state award finishing 13th leading the region finishers including Megan Murray (West High) in 20th and the Maryville duo of Avery Franklin and Delaney Markham in 25th and 26th. Maryville led the way for local teams taking the 3rd place finish behind Morristown West and Brentwood High. Hardin Valley (6th) and Farragut (13th) were the other area teams.
Next race was expected to be the most exciting from an individual perspective and the race did not disappoint. Aaron Templeton from Hardin Valley Academy was expected to win as the defending champion and one of the top 10 ranked runners in the country. He faced a tough test from Brentwood’s top 3 boys all ranked nationally in their own right. Using a strategy of pushing the pace until they quit is what he did it worked leading to a course record time of 15:10 and closing the book on 4 straight years of Templeton boys winning the state championship (Will won in 2010 and 2011, Aaron 2012 and 2013). He was not the only local athletes to have a great day as his teammate Lachlan Dickie greatly benefited from the Brentwood boy breaking apart finishing 3rd with Brandon Laws of Sevier Co. also finishing in the top 10 in 7th. Dartanian Oakley of Hardin Valley was the final all-state award winner finishing 15th. Hardin Valley led the way for the local teams finishing 3rd for the second year in a row behind the same two teams of Brentwood High (ranked 12th in the country) and Daniel Boone.
The Division 2-A guys and girls race featured only one local team but came away with 2 team titles and one individual championship as Webb defended their titles and Peighton Meske (Webb) followed suit after her 2012 championship. Reece Rose led the way for his Spartan teammates with his runner-up finish in the boys race behind Sam Darnell of University School-Jackson. University School of Nashville ran 3 teammates in right after rose but then Webb closed out the race with their final 4 finishers right behind to have all 5 scorers in the top 11. They won by 9 points with a score of 37-46 of USN. The girls came in with a tough matchup against St. Cecilia Academy and that matchup went back and forth not only in the team race but also the individuals as Peighton Meske and Emily Peters (St. Cecilia) went back and forth before Meske separated to dominate and return her crown to Knoxville with one year left in her high school career. Madeline Christian followed Meske’s performance to come up for 4th to make her first two high school years completed with top 5 finishes. Will all 5 scorers in the top 17 they narrowly won by 5 points of St. Cecilia.
A-AA was the final set of races on the day and had several local performances stand out. On the girls side, Sarah Zimmer and Rebecca Story set out to lead Christian Academy of Knoxville to a top 3 finish like in 2012 and they did just that finishing in the runner up position behind Signal Mountain. Zimmer (5th) and Story (6th) also led the local individuals followed by Knoxville Catholic’s Annie Batcheller (8th) and Camille Baker (9th) as their team came in 3rd to lead a great local charge along with Gatlinburg Pittman in 8th as a team.
The A-AA boys started their race with a light drizzle of rain and what appeared to be potential for some significant storms but they lucked out with beautiful cool and breezy weather. Zach Long (Grainger Co.) had the race of his life as the junior finished runner up to Wesley Pectol of Greeneville. Dagon Uselton (L&N STEM) nabbed his first all-state certificate finishing 8th followed by Jacob Testament (Alcoa) in 10th. Joe Bindner (Catholic) was the final local athlete to earn an all-state medal in 13th. In their first time at the A-AA level Knoxville Catholic led the local teams finishing in 8th followed by CAK (13th) and Alcoa (18th).
Most of these local athletes will be running in the KYA Post Season Program at three sites around Knoxville. You can see them compete next as most will be at the KYA Footlocker Time Trial at Hardin Valley Academy Friday, November 22nd under the lights starting at 6:00PM. That will be in preparation for the Footlocker South Regional in Charlotte, NC where the top athletes will contend for National berths at the Footlocker National Championship in San Diego!