The State championships for cross country this past weekend certainly proved to be a very competitive day of racing. There were 8 total races that made up the State meet calendar, boys and girls for each of 4 divisions. That means only eight athletes took home the title among a group of finishers that encompassed about 531 boys and 528 girls! The odds that you won, well, not exactly leaning in anyone's favor. But when it comes to cross country, the overall winner, although a great achievement, is not normally everyone's goal. Those goals vary by about as much as the number of finishers at these races!
Although I do not know what the personal goal was for many of these athletes running in the State meet, I can tell you there was an impressive group of Memphis area athletes with big smiles after the finish!
To begin with the D1 group, the Bartlett boys team was clearly the most impressive out of all the Memphis teams. Here their point total and the position of the athletes as well as some other stats:
Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
2 Bartlett 145 14 17 31 40 43 97 116
Total Time: 1:25:11.25
1-5 Split: 0:50
Without having a top ten runner in the mix, I'd say they relied mostly on the grit of putting together a consistent performance from all their athletes. Travis Jones was the leader at this meet for this talented group and posted a time of about 35 seconds better than his effort last year at State. Running a 16:36.04 was also about 8 seconds faster than his next teammate, Robert Dawson. Robert also improved his time on the course from last year by a few more seconds than Travis did - 38 second improvement! It's no wonder these guys were leading the pack. They were followed closely by Landen McNair (17:07), Andrew Burke (17:19) and pulling in the last point for the team was Rylee Hertter in 17:23. With an average of 16:36 for the top five and less than a minute split between them, it's an easy call to give them the accolade of being the top boys team in the Memphis area!
Jackson Williams (Arlington) and Bradley Turner (Houston) duked it out for the top Memphis finisher across the line. Jackson slid ahead of Bradley in a time of 16:21.76 and Bradley followed in 16:24.55. That was the kind of race you'd expect between two of the top talents in the area. Bradley was able to turn in a very good performance and close the gap with Jackson after dropping the Region 8 race with a 4th place finish there.
Now as exciting as the Bartlett boy's performance was, the same can be said about the tightly fought battle between the Arlington and Houston girls. It goes without saying that Arlington's Skylar Boogerd was the leader for their team; she holds the top spot among girls and hasn't been beat by any Memphis athlete all season. But getting back to the team standings. At the state meet the Arlington girls beat the Houston girls by a total of - ONE POINT! But even more interesting was that Arlington came in 4th overall and was only ONE POINT away from 3rd. And Houston got the 5th place spot by beating out Science Hill by ONE POINT! Not for many years have I seen such a closely counted match as the girls D1 Large school division.
Arlington: 169 points; team places: 3+13+23+45+85; 20:14 average; 1-5 split: 3:29
Houston: 170 points; team places: 22+26+27+38+57; 20:33 average; 1-5 split: 1:03
Obviously if you look at the average and the split time, it really doesn't tell a story. Arlington spread out their top five and Houston's girls stayed a lot more tightly together. A real contrast in the team dynamics, and yet only a point difference at the most important meet of the season! Yep, you can have a tie game in some of these other sports and go into overtime. You can have a shut-out in some sports. You can spread your game across 3 or 4 hours, or get rest periods or timeouts or substitutions. But very few sports have the same pressure as this does... for these girls they all had to be ready on Saturday at exactly 1:50pm. Line up and go... and then about 20 or so minutes later, see how the chips fell. ONE POINT... a wrong step, a little hesitation... who knows what could have changed the outcome. Arlington came out on top at this meet for Memphis area teams but overall, both the Arlington AND Houston girls are clearly the cream of the crop in the Memphis area. And that was fun to watch!
The lead off girl on the Arlington squad was as I said earlier, Skylar. She was able to improve on last year's state time by over 1 minute and 17 seconds and come in 4th overall in the D1 Large school division. Her 18:27.74 was just a couple seconds from third spot and a strong half a minute from the fifth spot. She gets the award for the fastest Memphis finisher among all the divisions with that performance. What was really impressive was how she powered up the last steep hill and was able to really come on strong at the end of the race. When you have the skill to do that kind of racing, good things always happen!
Over on the D2 side of the racing, St. George's Allison Newman made a very strong statement with her 2nd place finish in the D2 Small race by posting a solid 18:56.59. That was the second fastest Memphis finisher and 5th fastest at the state meet across all the divisions. I have to also add that she improved on last years' time by over 1 minute and 12 seconds! Her teammate, Sarah McDonald turned in a top six finish in a tie of 20:32.78 that also bettered her time from last year by almost 40 seconds. Behind those two performances, the St. George's team tallied up 98 points to squeak out a good spot in a tightly contested battle to gain that runner up spot. One more tidbit on Allison, she's only a sophomore and with over a minute improvement from last year's state meet, we are in for a treat as this athlete continues to flourish!
The boys D2 small came into this race with one of the top state prospects in Sohan Pokorny-Yadav. Lausanne's senior athlete ran about 21 seconds faster than last season and his 16:55 got him a 4th overall spot this year which is how he fared in last year's meet. That pretty much shows how competitive this competition was this year, a 21 second improvement and the same place. The time he ran was the second fastest time he has clocked this season with his 16;14 win at the D2-A Region being the fastest this season for the athlete. Now, doing it at the state meet, with the nature of the course, is certainly an accomplishment.
In the D2 large schools contest, Briarcrest Junior VI Stuart was the first Memphis finisher in a time of 20:54.29. VI has been having a banner year this season with several local wins and steadily improving on her performances at each race. That trend certainly was solidified at the state meet this year as Vi improved her time from last year by a whopping 2 minutes and 40.57 seconds! Keeping up the dedication to the training and staying focused certainly paid off for this talent athlete!
The Briarcrest girls also got the tag for having the best Memphis area team finish in the D2 large division. Of course, when a large group of your top runners improve on their times at this meet, it certainly helps. The #3 runner for the Saints was Reagan Casey who posted a 1 minute 14 second improvement from last year. The number four runner, Hannah Fisher, a senior like Reagan also improved by over a minute and eight seconds! And the last scoring spot was secured by senior Camille Moffatt - and yes, she also improved her time. The number two runner is a freshman, so it remains to be seen if Kat Harris (21.33.24) is able to do the improvement thing next season!
One of the top teams in the area, Christian Brothers, came into the meet with high expectations and they delivered on those. Constatine Campbell and Tyler Casey were the top two boys crossing the line for team. But even more impressive was the fact that all five of the scorers for the CBHS team were the top five finishers from the Memphis area! So along with Constatine and Tyler, Sloan McHugh (17:23), Jake Ryan (17:48) and Gabe Roberts (17:49) crossed the tape ahead of all the other Memphis finishers in this Division. Not a bad showing for these boys for sure.
The teams overall average was 17:19 and took in 83 points for the effort. Constatine's time was 16:46.93 and was almost a minute faster than what he ran last year. Tyler's time was 16:47.81 that was just over half a minute faster than last season at this meet. With less than a minute between these two guys, you know that had to help push them to the finish. Bragging rights is going to do that to you!! In cross country, experience is always a positive on the team and with four of the five scorers all seniors, that had to be a big factor in how strong this team ended up the season.
See you on
the track... and the grass!