Underclassmen Lead Siegel to State Title

Siegel High School came in to Saturday's state championship as the No. 3 team in D1 Large Schools.

On Saturday, they became champions.

The Stars averaged 16:41, the fastest of any team at the 2017 State Championship. And Siegel also had all five runners within a minute of each other. That was a big factor in their victory.

Dawson Reed led the way in sixth place. And his teammates weren't too far behind.

Three underclassmen were crucial in Siegel's victory. Freshman Tucker Moss finished tenth. Canaan Anderson was 20th. Seth Robinson came in 22nd.

Coming into Saturday's competition, the Stars were on the outside looking in.

Anderson, Moss and Robinson were ranked outside the top 50 based on season bests entering the meet. But those three were the difference between first and second place.

Steeplechase is one of the hardest courses in Tennessee. And multiple Siegel runners were able to get close to their personal bests at the State Championship.

Moss had never run faster than 16:30. At the State Meet, he ran 16:23. Robinson only ran 11 seconds slower than he did at Jesse Owens. And frontrunner Dawson Reed almost broke 16 minutes for the first time.

This team is here to stay. And with the breakthroughs many of their young guys showed, I expect to be contending for a spot on the podium for the forseable future.

And it all goes back to pack running. That was the difference.

Young runners thrive in groups. When you have multiple underclassmen in the top five, it's imperative to stick together. That's exactly what Siegel did.

At the Brooks Twilight Meet, you got the sense that this team had a chance for a breakout season. But even then, there wasn't a very tight group. 

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When Siegel got second at the region meet, there was considerable improvement. Reed and Moss finished second and third. And there was a close pack of runners right behind the front two.

That experience leading up to the State Championship is invaluable. It paid off, allowing Siegel to pull off a surprise victory over newcomers Knoxville Catholic.

Siegel finished as the top boys team at the 2017 State Championship. It didn't hurt that they ran in much cooler weather than everyone else. But this team took a major step forward on the biggest stage.

With two sophomores and a freshman finishing in the top 25, the Stars will be around for a while.