There are a couple of things you expect when you go to a
cross country meet, especially the State Championships. Good competition is one for sure. The State cross country championships is the
opportunity for athletes from all schools to show what they have at the end of the
season. The Girls D1 small school race
is usually one race that has a few surprises.
This year wasn't any different. A
couple of Dresden High School teammates were on the grass this afternoon to
give it one more shot at which will be the top finisher. Anna Johnson and Loral Winn have gone kind of
back and forth this season with Anna taking the top spot at their Region meet
the other week.
Obviously, Anna came to this meet Saturday with the same goal in mind that she had at her Region meet. That was to win. But it wasn't going to be an easy task at all. At around the mile mark, Anna's teammate, Loral, was a few short seconds ahead of her.
By the time the two mile mark came up, Anna starting taking control of her race. With about a thirty second lead by then, Anna built up some speed to finish in 20.02.95 and in first place. Loral came in the runner up spot in 20:43.48 after having to battle for that spot against a fairly strong group of contenders. In third, was Signal Mountain's Mattie Parker in 21:27.70.
With Mattie's third place finish, Julia Agan in seventh overall and Tara Jessen inside the top ten at ninth, these girls were able to secure the top team title this year. Julia ran a 22:00, Tara finished in 22:46 and the next two teammates, Kathlee Umbarger (22:55) and Catherine Drenna (23:36) proved this team was going to be just too difficult to beat. Catherine came in 21st overall and 15th in the team standings and gave the team an overall 2:08 for their 1 to 5 split and an average of 22:28. Both stats were well above the other teams in this division and enough to give them a total of 42 points for the effort.
White House-Heritage was the runner up team with 94 points. That was only five points ahead of the third place team, University School of Johnson City. That's just some of the close races and team titles we saw on this great day to race!
The boys side of the completion for the D1 smalls we knew we would be in for a tight race. Forth seconds separated the first place finisher to the seventh place spot. Seth Jinks of L & N STEM Academy was the eventual winner for the D1 small school boys by almost ten seconds. That sounds like a lot, but it really wasn't. The lead pack stayed together for quite a while from the beginning to almost coming up to that last hill.
Seth finished in 17:09.90, Merrol Hyde Magnet's Alex Ponce was second in 17:19.31, and in third was Cascade High 's Cole Relford in 17:24.50. None of those three are seniors so we should see these guys competing again. Actually, we will see a lot of these guys competing for quite some time since only a third of them are seniors overall. Out of the top 30 finishers, ten of them are seniors.
University School of Johnson City was able to hold an average pace of 18:29 for their athletes and that was more than enough to get them the team title by a huge margin. The tight race for the team portion was for second place. L&N STEM Academy pulled off the second place spot by six points over Signal Mountain. 101 to 107 is a tight race for second. Their average time turned out to be only 4 seconds apart. You have to love this sport when we see tight races this close together!
As we've seen throughout these state championships, it doesn't take a top individual to make a team get a title. As a matter of fact, across most of these divisions, the individual title didn't end up with a team title. It's just one of those stats that make cross country such a growing and exciting sport.
Just to prove that point, USJC wins the state team title with their first runner coming in sixth place overall. Ok, a top ten finish at the state championships is pretty strong. With that said, it is good to have a couple of athletes in the top twenty-five. But it really is good if all five of your athletes make that mark. USJC did just that with Porter Bradley leading the team with a 17:40, Pablo Rivas second in 18:02, Caleb Strickler in third in 18:47, right behind him was Blake Ryan in 18:48 and finishing out the fifth team spot in 23rd overall was Will Owen with a 19:10.10. That's some pretty impressive team running for sure. Only one of those guys is a senior and that likely means we should keep an eye on these guys next year and hopefully during track season.
See you on the track... and the grass!