Five Runners to Watch: Division Two Small Schools

We could see an 8th-grader win state on Friday.

Webb School's Abby Faith Cheeseman comes in as the favorite in DII-A.

She's one of the five names we're looking for on Friday afternoon at the state meet in Hendersonville. Here are five names in each DII-A race to remember in the final race of the 2020 Tennessee State Cross Country Championship.

DII-A Girls State Championship | Five Runners to Watch

Abby Faith Cheeseman | The Webb School

Cheeseman has had a huge eighth grade season in her first year racing varsity cross country in Tennessee. Abby Faith, the little sister of Carter Cheeseman, Claire Cheeseman and Allison Cheeseman, is the newest member of one of Tennessee's fastest families. In her first race this year she won the McCallie Invitational in 18:54.54, the first of her two wins this season. Last week she brought home the region title in 18:26. And her career-best came down in Alabama at Jesse Owens, where she finished 5k in 17:40.95. She's got the fourth-fastest time in Tennessee and is ranked 73rd nationally heading into Friday's state meet.

Lauren Rutlin | St George's Independent School

With Missouri commitment Allison Newman missing Friday's state meet due to an injury, Rutlin leads the team favorite into this race. She's ranked third in the league this year with an 18:12.15 season-best that she ran back in October at the small schools Jesse Owens meet. Last year she was the runner-up at the state meet behind Newman, finishing the race in 19:02.12. She's also finished in the top six of every race she's run this season.

Alli Hylkema | Jackson Christian High School

Hylkema has the fourth-fastest time in DII-A with a 19:18.57 that she ran on October 3 at Jesse Owens. The Jackson Christian junior finished third at the west region championship behind Rutlin and Abbie Baker, the next runner on our list. Last year she finished ninth at the state meet with a 21:01.92.

Abbie Baker | First Assembly Christian School

Baker was the region runner-up from the western side of the state and has had a successful senior season so far. After finishing third at the state meet last year, Baker has turned in top four finishes twice this year in local West Tennessee meets. Her 19:15.00 season-best is good for fifth in the division behind the other three runners on this list plus Newman.

Annabelle Cothran | Columbia Academy

Our list concludes with a junior who had one of her best races of the season last year at the state meet. Cothran finished fifth at last year's state championship, finishing the course in 20:30.05. She's broken 20 minutes once in her high school career - last year at Jesse Owens - when she ran 19:59.83. She's yet to break the 20-minute barrier this season and will be gunning for her fourth top six finish of the 2020 season on Friday.

DII-A Boys State Championship | Five Runners to Watch

Connor Henson | Columbia Academy

Henson comes in with the top time in the state for DII's small class. He ran 15:54 early in the season back on September 22 at the Maury County Championship. Last year he finished sixth at the state meet, running 17:00.63 at Steeplechase to earn All-State honors. His 2020 season-best places him 17th on our Tennessee boys leaderboard.

Andy Henton | Harding Academy

Henton finished eighth at last year's state championship with a 17:33.42 time. This year, he's hoping to stand atop the podium. The Harding Academy senior has won each of his last three races, including a new 15:56.00 career-best at Memphis Youth Athletics #4. He's finished in the top ten each time he's raced this season, which also includes a championship in the 1A-2A race at Jesse Owens on October 2. Henson won the west region title in 16:33.28.

Colton Sanborn | Notre Dame High School

Sanborn won the east region title in 16:47.79 on October 27 and will be gunning for a top five finish on Friday afternoon in Middle Tennessee. The Notre Dame senior broke 17 minutes for the first time at Front Runner on October 22, and then followed that up with his region title five days later. Sanborn finished last season with a 37th-place finish at state, running 18:49.44. His region championship was his second individual win of the season.

Trace Alexander | Battle Ground Academy

Alexander is the top returner from last year's state championship at Steeplechase. He ran 16:49.43 for fourth place, which was just two seconds off of his personal-best. He hasn't broken 17 minutes yet this year but will be looking to finish near the front of the pack once again on Friday afternoon.

Kaden Narayani | Webb School of Knoxville

Narayani posted his career-best time (17:02.59) in a third-place finish at the east region meet on October 27. His 19th-place finish at the KIL Championship was his best time of the year at 17:47.00. Narayani placed ninth at last year's state championship, running 17:34.73 to lead his team to a second-place finish.