The MSCCA Championships was held at Buckner City Park in Dickson yesterday. For a change, the weather was a bit cool and overcast but luckily no rain during the races. This race has three divisions, the A, AA and AAA that are all run together (by gender) and also has a JV division so it's a really good event to be a participant and a spectator.
Combining the divisions is not a bad idea since it does save some time but say one thing - in a race with this many athlete, the first few hundred meters can be critical. Critical in this case being a bit scary, the wide-open start funnels very quickly through a gate in a fence. Like trees, that fence doesn't budge if you hit it, your awareness around you is important at the start for sure.
Then once you pass the fence, you're suddenly given a fast introduction to the character of this course. That character is hills. Lots of hills. Long ones, short, steep, gradual, winding, and then considering the very nature of a hill, you go up and then you've got to go down. So, yes, downhills are in the mix as well.
So, onto how the races unfolded this chilly Saturday. Let's start with just an overall look at the top finishers first. The girls' varsity started off pretty quickly with Landri Wilcox of Cookeville High taking no time at all to jump into the lead with Fred J. Page's Leigh Walters right there with her through the opening in the fence at the start. By the first mile, the leaders shifted a bit with Henry County Dinah Winders right on Landry's shoulder.
Once the athletes made it through the long downhill part of the race, the standings starting falling in place. Landri still kept the lead and looked really strong up the long winding last hill before the finish line sprint. Ending with a 17:52.05 that was clearly a huge improvement on her time last year on this course. Page's Leigh Walters ended up passing Dinah and taking charge up the last hill herself to get the runner up spot in 18:01.90. And Dinah Winders rounded out this top three group crossing the line in 18:26.53. Leigh was able to improve on her time on this course from last year as well, going from 23rd spot to the runner up spot and more than two minutes improvement on her time! That's impressive for sure. Dinah didn't run this meet last year, but now that she has experience on these hills, I'd keep an eye out for her next year. Actually, you can keep an eye out for all these athletes since none are seniors!
Those top three girls made for a very competitive race and a fun finish for sure. But the next four girls get the prize for the closest matchup in the race. Places fourth through eighth were just twelve or so seconds apart. These girls were kind of spread out a bit until about the two-mile mark where they closed together into a tighter pack for the most part. Anna Banovac took out a bit faster than the rest and got the fourth overall spot in 18:49.93. The next four made for a tight race.
Going up the last long hill they were all within touch distance and going stride for stride up that winding path to the top of the hill. The final run down the straight next to all the tents, ended up with Breja Hooks in the fifth overall spot in 18:54.44. Brentwood's Eden MIttelsdort (18:56.14) was next just a hair ahead of Independence athlete Sadie Cook. And by close, I mean less than a second with a time of 18:56.14. And just a bit over 19, Central Magnet's Samantha Ouellette clocked a 19:01.78 to get the 8th overall spot round out this group's highly competitive finish at this race.
The "A" division finished with Kaelyn Meier (Merol Hyde Magnet) clocking 19:23.40 just behind Davidson Academy's Lucy Rutherford's 19:22.78. The winner in this division was Franklin Christian's Alexandra Benson in 19:20.18. Alexandra also posted a top ten overall finish Saturday that was more than two minutes faster than her time at this meet last season. That's an impressive win and an even more impressive improvement for the senior athlete!
The AA race top three had some impressive finishers for sure. Leigh Walters won the division with her 18:01.90 winning division time and one that also got her the runner up overall spot at the meet. Samantha Ouellette of Central Magnet hung onto that fast pack of runners to gain the runner up spot in the AA division. Samantha's teammate, Kerrigan Walls, got the bronze spot in the division with her 19:56 time that was a notable PR for the athlete. Getting a PR on this course is no easy task!
The top three girls overall were also the top three finishers in the AAA division, so I won't repeat those here other than to say Landri Wilcox was the winner, Leigh Walters second and Dinah Winders third. There's certainly a ton of competition, as well as talented athletes, in all these divisions.
Over to the boy's races where we saw the top four overall breaking under the 16-minute barrier on a course that isn't exactly favorable to doing that! Remember the hills thing I talked about earlier! Lebanon's Aiden Britt ran a 15:55.28 on this course Saturday that bettered the 16:40 he ran last season at this meet. Aiden also came up from 9th to 4th this season. That's likely to equate to a better finish at the Steeplechase course this November as well. And by the way, that's a new PR for Aiden. I've mentioned this course is tough, haven't I?
There was a
pretty tough battle among all these guys with only just over ten seconds
separating the top finisher with the third-place spot. Running 15:18.56 to gain that third spot,
Beech Senior High's David Ahlmeyer bettered his time from last year by over
half a minute and posting another - yes another - PR at this meet. I walked this course and believe me, it's not
a personal best course by any means. I
suppose it was the first real chilly day and everybody wanted to get finished
early. Or maybe, it's a really good sign
that come November, we are going to see one heck of a good competition take
Back to the competition. The top two runners in this meet have a bit of history against each other - Silas Winders (Henry County) and Davis Bove (Centennial). Silas has normally taken the title between the two when they go head on but earlier this season, at the very start, that wasn't exactly the case. The Memphis Twilight classic, the ultra-competitive early season race put on by Christian Brothers University in Memphis pitted both Silas Winders and Dave Bove against each other. That race was a very competitive run with Silas getting third overall and Davis taking the title with over thirty seconds to spare. Not sure that was a way Silas wanted to finish.
The start of the boy's varsity race here was a brutally fast start with Davis getting ahead of Silas and the other competitors and looking pretty strong going thru the first mile. These top runners are not guys that take a liking to being anywhere but near or in the lead. Their competitiveness was showing in a big way at this race. As they passed thru the first mile and a half and go back out into the woods, you either ran out towards mile two or waited at the last hill in anticipation of what the result will be at that point. That's what I did. I waited. That gets to be a tough wait if you are rooting for your team.
After a few minutes, you can see the lights of the four-wheeler leading the race as it weaved thru the woods and started heading towards that very last long winding hill. The first one coming out of that spot was Silas with a very short lead on Davis. That lead was maybe ten meters. Both looked strong. Both looked committed to giving their all. Probably at that point, anyone could have won. It ended up with Silas kicking it in at the end and clocking a 15:08.2. Davis finished a few seconds behind in 15:12.06 and then David Ahlmeyer in third with a 15:18.56. That's some pretty tight competition and is setting up for what we could see in November. All these guys ran a pretty strong race on a pretty tough course and with three weeks left till State, it's looking like we could be in for a very spirited race on the Steeplechase course! I can't wait!
The boys race also has the same three divisions as the girls. So, let's run thru those competitions. The boy's "A" race was won by Alex Ponce of Merrol Hyde and by a pretty strong margin. His 16:19.50 was over a minute ahead of second place finisher, Stone Norris. Stone lead his Clarksville Academy team with a 17:07.62 leading time that garnered that group a second-place team finish.
Sovereign Grace took the boys A team title with a total of 27 points. That was impressive to say the least. Luke Morel lead the team with his 17:21.01. With four athletes running in the 17's, that pretty much sealed the deal for Sovereign Grace's title.
The AA division individual title was taken by David Ahlmeyer with his 15:18.56 time that was also the third fastest of the meet. This wasn't an easy race by any means, with the top 7 guys all under 17 minutes, you had to fight to get on the podium here. Central Magnet's Fuji Anday was the second fastest in the division in 16:33.32 and Page's Connor Duncan edged ahead of Beech's Eric Mitchell by less than a second in 16:38.24. This group is also proof positive that it really doesn't matter what division or class you are in, when it comes to cross country and running in general, it's not the size of the school that matters... it's the size of the heart in the athlete!
The AAA division had Silas and Davis in the top two, so we already know that. The Bronze spot was captured expressively by Aiden Britt. Aiden also bettered his time from last year at this meet and set a new PR with his 15:55.28.
The overall title for the AAA boys was captured by the Independence Team lead by Preston Hanzely with his team leading 16:43 time. This team did a good job of keeping tightly packed with all seven of their teammates in the top 40 and the top five in the top 31. That's a good way to get a team title at this meet, and any meet for that matter.
That's it for the wrap up and so if I left somebody off, don't fret, make a mark of it at the State meet.... Or if you want, just add comments below. I'd love to say something about everyone at this meet, but that's just not possible. But I certainly enjoyed talking with coaches, athletes, parents, spectators, and all the people at the meet... it's a part of what makes cross country so much fun to be a part of... the comradery of this sport! Let's keep it up and keep promoting this sport in every way we can!
See you on the track... and the Grass!