State is almost here.
And it's time to start previewing each division.
Over the next week, we'll be running through the teams and runners to watch in each classification as the state championship gets closer.
Here are five runners to keep an eye on next week in Hendersonville!
Five Girls to Watch | Division One Large Schools
Let's start with one of the top runners in the country. Hutchins won her first state championship two years ago at Steeplechase as a freshman. Now, in 2020, she has three state records to her name and is looking to reclaim the individual state championship once again this year. Her 16:25.08 earlier this year is the all-time state best and the third-fastest time in America so far this year. She's broken 17 minutes each time she's raced in the regular season this year. We're looking forward to seeing just how fast she can go next week in Hendersonville.
Walters pulled off a big win at the region six championship earlier this week to punch her ticket to state. The Page senior has won the last two races she's competed in at Dickson and region. She's also broken 18 three times this year. Her 17:39.55 season-best places her third in Tennessee behind Hutchins and the next runner on our list. She was the state runner up last year behind Sasha Neglia in 17:51.76.
Correction: Due to contact tracing, Andie-Marie Jones was unable to compete at the region meet and will not be racing at the state championship. We will leave her bio up here to highlight her strong season.
Jones has had a busy 2020 season. Her runner-up finish at Jesse Owens places her No. 2 on the Tennessee leaderboard heading into the postseason. She was clocked in at 17:37.25 for a new career-best on October 3 down in Alabama. She's raced six times this year, logging four first place finishes and two second place finishes. Last year she came in fifth at the state meet in 18:17.48.
Wilcox has punched her ticket to state by winning the region three title earlier this week. Her seventh place finish at Foot Locker South last fall was a career-best time for her in 17:26. She would go on to finish 31st at Foot Locker Nationals in 2019. This year she's put down a 17:48.13 season-best, good for the No. 6 spot on the 2020 leaderboard. She came in fourth last year at the state meet.
Vanderkolk has had a huge season as a senior so far this fall. She has the fifth-fastest season best this year in 17:45.98 at Jesse Owens. Vanderkolk has finished in the top five every time she's raced this year, including a third place finish at the region meet earlier this week. She came in 12th with a 19:08 at the state championship last year, and leads the top team contender into next week's state championship in Hendersonville.
Five Boys to Watch | Division One Large Schools
Fresh off of a region six championship run earlier this week, Ally is the favorite in Division One Large Schools. His career-best of 15:08 came earlier this season at the Coach Wood Invitational in Georgia, which is the second-best time in Tennessee this year and 40th nationally. He's raced four times this year and he's broken 15:30 every single time, including his 15:29.00 region title run on Tuesday morning. He finished third last year behind a pair of seniors at the 2019 state meet.
Vanderkolk has held the TN No. 1 for most of the season. His 15:06.04 third place finish at The Southern Showcase is still the fastest time for a Tennessee guy this year. And he ran that back on September 19. He's had a busy season, racing seven times and finishing in the top six every time he's raced. He was second at the region six championship earlier this week, coming in 20 seconds behind Ally. He finished 14th in 16:15.01 at state in 2019.
The Bartlett senior finished a few tenths of a second behind Ally at Frank Horton in Memphis earlier this year. And we're expecting another good race between these two next week in Hendersonville. McNair has three wins to his name this year and five runs under 16 minutes this season. His career-best is 15:14.70, which he ran back on Sept. 19 this past season. He finished 13th last year at the state meet.
Britt has raced six times this year and has five first place finishes to his name. He bested a really strong field that included Vanderkolk in Dickson a few weeks ago, winning in 15:42.07. He coasted to a 15:40.97 region five championship earlier this week on the state meet course in Hendersonville, which is just 11 seconds behind what Ally ran on the same course in a different race. Britt ran his career best of 15:20.10 in Louisville last season. He finished fifth at state a season ago as well.
Keller has dominated in East Tennessee all season long. He's raced five times and recorded four first place finishes, including most recently at the KIL Championship against Knoxville's top competition on October 9. He's one of the top returners from last year's state championship, when he placed 11th in 16:09. His Hawks will be in contention for a podium finish as well next week.