2021 Cross Country Storylines: Fast Freshmen

Fast Freshmen

What were your PRs when you were 13 or 14 years old? Were they anything close to this?

8th Grade Girl 8th Grade Boy
800m 2:25 1:59
1600m 4:57 4:25
3200m 10:38 9:18
XC 5K 17:40 16:39

Unlikely. Most would want these resumes regardless of age. Fortunately for us, they belong to two of our own. Both Abby Faith Cheeseman of The Webb School and Keegan Smith of Knoxville Catholic will be incoming Freshman this season and if you only follow high school running, then you've likely already heard of Abby Faith. She is the defending Division II Class A Cross Country State Champion and since The Webb School houses their 8th graders in the same building as their upperclassmen she was able to run at the high school level per TSSAA Policy. I caught up with Abby Faith this week to see recap how she felt about last season and discuss goals for this season.

Abby Faith Cheeseman looks to defend her title in 2021 but has loftier goals beyond the state meet. 

Catholic Schools of Knoxville have a more spread out format with multiple middle school campuses that feed into the Knox Catholic High School. This season will be Smith's first season at the high school level and he'll likely have an immediate impact on the overall Division II Class AA landscape. While Abby Faith is ready to hit the ground running, we may not get to see how Keegan adapts to the 5k distance until midseason or so. Smith likely is just now coming out of some well needed time off and starting his base training thinking back to the conversation we had at MCTC. His plan was to take a month off after Eugene. I'm not 100% sure when he'll debut but with someone who is looking to race beyond the scholastic season I imagine it'll be Mid-September or early October.

As stated earlier this week, it's hard to declare anyone the favorite in Division II AA but it may become my favorite individuals race to cover in the coming years. With Smith as a freshman and Thompson and Simpson as sophomores, the trajectory of these talented runners may supplant Division I AAA as the premiere race on the boy's side.

Keegan Smith runs US #1 3200m for MS Boy's at MCTC in early June of 2021.

Very excited to see how these two can continue to raise the bar in Tennessee. More 2021 Storylines to come.