Five Runners to Watch: Division Two Large Schools

Bella Guillamondegui (pictured) and Nathan Cottrell are the favorites in DII-AA.

It's time to take a look at DII-AA.

The 2020 State Cross Country meet kicks off this week in Hendersonville, and we're previewing each of the divisions' teams and runners to watch.

And now we're previewing the largest class in division two.

You can find the team preview here.

Here are five girls and guys to watch at the state cross country meet in DII-AA.

DII-AA Boys Championship

Jack Cottrell | Chattanooga Christian School

Chattanooga Christian's Edimo Ninterestse won the DII-AA state championship last year in CCS' first year in the league. In 2020, they've got the favorite once again in senior Jack Cottrell. With two wins and six total top ten finishes this year, Cottrell has consistently been the fastest runner in the Chattanooga area this year. He has the fastest personal best in this field at 15:33.93, which he ran at Jesse Owens earlier this year in an eighth place finish. He's the favorite heading into the DII-AA boys championship race.

Colin Knapp | Father Ryan

Knapp was fifth at last year's state championship and has had a huge year in Middle Tennessee and beyond. The Irish junior broke 16 minutes for the first time on October 17th in a new personal best 15:59.90. That's almost a 30-second improvement on his career-best coming into the year. He has the second-fastest time in the league heading into the state championship this week.

Ciro Albamont | Father Ryan

Albamont and Knapp are one of the state's better 1-2 combos. Albamont ran a 16:00.35 for a sixth place finish a little over two weeks ago. He was tenth in 17:11 at the state championship in 2019. If he and Knapp can work together at the front of the pack, they'll have a good shot to both finish in the top three to five runners. The Irish have a pair of talented juniors who could lead them to their first team state championship in school history.

Jake Ryan | Christian Brothers

Ryan is another talented junior who will factor into the individual race in DII-AA. He ran a new 16:11.00 career-best in a third place finish at Frank Horton two weeks ago. Last year he finished ninth, two seconds ahead of Albamont, running 17:07.90.   

Luke Thompson | Brentwood Academy

Thompson is the second-fastest freshman cross country runner in Tennessee this season. He clocked in a 16:17 at the Ring Farm All Comers meet on October 13. In his first season as a high school runner, Thompson has four top six finishes and a 16:18.49 down at Jesse Owens earlier this year. 

DII-AA Girls Championship 

Bella Guillamondegui | Harpeth Hall

Guillamondegui is the favorite in DII-AA on the girls side after a monster sophomore season on the heels of a second place finish last season. She has a 18:25.76 to her name from this year's Jesse Owens meet. She's got a 16-second gap between her and No. 2 ranked Eiselstein coming into the state meet. Guillamondegui ran 19:18.04 at the state meet in 2019 before finishing fourth in the Foot Locker South freshman race.

Jane Eiselstein | Girls Preparatory School

Eiselstein has had a breakthrough senior season, clocking in a 18:41.20 at the James Clemens Twilight meet a few weeks ago. Before that run, her previous personal best was 19:44.09 from the McCallie Invite earlier this season as well. Eiselstein has chopped off 85 seconds from her career best in 2019. She finished fifth at the state meet a year ago.

Katie Knapp | Father Ryan

Knapp has also had a huge season as a freshman for the Irish in 2020. She finished sixth in 18:41.99 at James Clemens, which was a fraction of a second behind Eiselstein. Before that race she'd posted a 19:00.29 for an 11th place finish at The Southern Showcase. Knapp has finished in the top 11 three times out of the four races she's run as a freshman, putting her near the top of this field with a shot to finish in the top three in DII-AA.

Mae Mae Powe | Baylor

Powe, another freshman, has lit it up in her first season as a high school cross country runner. She's placed in the top seven every time she's raced this year, including a seventh place finish for a career-best 18:47.30 at The Southern Showcase. She leads a strong Baylor strong into this championship race and has a chance to finish in this tight front group.

Jessica Joshi | St. Mary's Episcopal

Joshi has only raced twice this season, but she's had good performance both times she's toed the line this year. The senior ran a new personal best at the fourth Memphis Youth Athletics meet with a 19:00.00 second-place finish. She also won the Purple division at the Frank Horton Invitational in 19:31.19. According to the DII-AA girls rankings, she comes in with a solid chance of securing a top five finish in her second state meet.