Nashville Area State XC Highlights

Lots of Nashville area teams put up big performances at the 2017 State Cross Country Championships.

Middle Tennessee teams won three team state championships. Athletes from the mid-state won three individual titles as well. 

Here are three observations from times run by Middle Tennessee teams at this weekend's state championship.

Ravenwood is Back

The Ravenwood girls team had an up and down year. But it all finished off in a state title.

It all started with getting Annika Sleenhof back. She only ran two races this season. Those were the region and state championships.

And at the state meet, Sleenhof finished 8th with a 19:18 finish. 

Sleenhof was one of Tennessee's best runners last season. She was second at NXN Southeast and went on to place 19th at Nike Cross Country Nationals.

Her return to the Raptors' lineup made a crucial difference. 

On a slow day at Steeplechase, the Ravenwood girls were the only group to run sub-20 minutes as a team. The Raptors clocked in at 19:58, which is about 40 seconds slower than what they averaged last season.

But winning a second straight championship is very difficult. Especially when you're repeating at perhaps the most competitive level in Tennessee.

This was a veteran group of runners who will leave quite the legacy. Ravenwood's entire top seven is made up of upperclassmen. Senior Jamie Blaylock finished 13th. Junior Alex Rosen came in 15th. 

It will be hard to replace the Sleenhof and Blaylock next season. But for now, Ravenwood is on top of the running world for girls in Tennessee.

Siegel Leads Strong Group of Murfreesboro Teams

It was a good year for teams in Murfreesboro this season. And Siegel High School's Large School Championship highlights that group.

The Stars relied upon big days from a few underclassmen to win the state title. We profiled that victory here. But even the teams who didn't bring home any hardware had big days too.

Oakland has been the second best team in Tennessee for much of the season. But after battling a few injuries as the season progressed, the Patriots settled for third at the state meet. 

On the girls side, Siegel was in the mix as well. The Stars finished fourth in the D1 Large Schools girls championship. Central Magnet's Camille Smith placed fourth in her school's first season at the Large Schools level. 

Brentwood Academy Cleans Up DII
For the fourth straight year, Brentwood Academy won the boys Division II Large Schools championship. And although the BA girls team was the runner up on the girls side, Meredith Helton was able to bring home the individual state title.

The Eagles have been the No. 1 boys team in Tennessee since week one. And although they didn't finish at the top of combined results, you have to take into account the conditions during the DII meet. It got hot. 

And the young Eagles still cruised to another victory in the boys race. 

Matthew McMillan and Matthew Porter finished first and second. That's the third time in four years at the Eagles have gone 1-2 at the State Meet. 
To put that in perspective, until 2013 no Division II-AA team had ever repeated as champions.

I've said a lot in the past two weeks that tight packs help win championships. And Brentwood Academy is the perfect example of that. When I talked to McMillan after his race, he echoed that same sentiment.

McMillan and Porter have both vied for the top spot on the Eagles' team all season long. But that close pack makes things so much easier for them to push each other.
Helton learned from the same asset last season while running with top runner Claire Cheeseman. When she went down with an injury during the race, Helton picked up the mantle, crossing the line first for the state championship.

She brought that momentum with her this season, winning the meet by over a minute.
It's of note that the landscape of cross country in Middle Tennessee looks a lot different now with Brentwood High not as much in the picture. With Guy Avery continuing to coach Brodey Hasty and Scott Thompson, the Bruins weren't able to qualify for this year's state championship.

But nonetheless, the mid-state was represented well. Ravenwood and Brentwood Academy perhaps both have the top team in the state for girls and boys respectively. Siegel pulled off the upset of the meet with the D1 Large Schools Title. And Murfreesboro teams made some noise across a few different divisions.