Central Magnet girls surprise coach with victory

Central Magnet coach Stuart Leach couldn't believe his eyes as he looked at the team scores from the TMSAA Girls Class A State Cross Country Championship.  It showed his Tigers winning the meet with 97 points.

"I thought they made a mistake or something," he said.  "It looked close because all the runners were bunched up pretty good.  It was hard to tell who won, but then I realized, wow, we did win!"

It was the second straight crown for the Central Magnet girls, who captured this year's title with 57 points.

"There were more teams this year and it was a lot more competitive (top four teams within 16 points)," Leach said.  "I didn't  know if we could win it again going into the meet."  

Santa Fe was second with 107 points and Holston Valley and Rogersville  both had 113 points.

Another thing that caused some uncertainty in the coach's mind was the fact his team was on fall break all week.

"That caused a little anxiety," Leach said.  "You never know what's going to happen when they are not in school, but our kids got some running in and came to the meet focused.  I was very proud of them."

Samantha Ouellette led the team by finishing third in 12:46 for two miles.  Emma Kate Hamby was the next one to cross the line in 13:39.  She was followed by Mikayla Morrell (26th), Anna Jones (30th) and Joanna Doddington (55th).

"Every year a coach assesses his team as to whether they are bigger or better than last year," Leach explained.  "Our kids got better thanks to some great leadership from some of the older kids."

Henry County's Dinah Winders captured individual honors with a time of 12:24.