2021 TSSAA State XC Meet Recap: Division II Class AA Girls

Division II Class AA Girls

The Race Highlights

The Individual Race

On October 21st, I went to cover the Front Runner Invitational in Chattanooga. It was my first and only time of the season to see most of the Chattanooga teams in person before regionals and state. The main takeaway for me from that race was "Baylor just beat GPS without Mae Mae Powe." Now I saw Powe there and when I interviewed her teammate Addi Greene, after I asked why she didn't race and with most athletes late in the season she was nursing a small ailment. When I saw them warming up at the start line on Friday at the state meet, she looked to be striding normally. This being the case, Baylor was going to be hard to beat.

After filming the start of the race I ran to the lake loop where I'd film from my second spot. When the runners started to pass I heard a Baylor coach say to some Baylor runners (you can hear this at the 3:55 mark in the race video above) "Hey! Mae Mae's out... gotta keep moving." What this meant to me was, "well I guess she wasn't 100% and tried to race but couldn't." After the race, I saw Powe, who was clearly upset, and asked what her injury was and she informed me, it wasn't the previous injury that caused her to pull out. She tripped and fell after the first turn of the race which caused a new injury which is why she DNF'd.

The purpose of this long introduction is to say that for some reason this division seems to attract drama and for two years in a row, one runner's misfortune yields other's benefit. In the case of this year, Harpeth Hall benefitted twice.

The cloud of November 2020 has likely followed the Junior Honey Bear Bella Guillamondegui ever since she exhaustedly walked the final 400 meters or so of the state championship last season falling from a for sure victory to a 34th place finish. Since that race, she hasn't run over 18:46 and not lost to anyone in her division and neither have the Honey Bears as a team. As was expected last season, this race was hers to lose again but this year she didn't. Bella had company from a slew of young challengers for almost two miles of the race before she used the downhill on the second lake loop to propel herself away from a trio of underclassmen. Skip to 11:15 to see where the group of four becomes a group of one.

Over the last mile Bella would separate herself from the field and clock a twelve second victory over the next closest finisher.

The closest challenger ended up being Powe's teammate Addi Greene. In an earlier article published last week I said this about the Freshman from Baylor:

The progression of Baylor Freshman Addi Greene this season has been downright impressive. She opened the season on Sanders Ferry with a 21:00 and closes her season on the same course with an 18:34 placing second overall. Her previous PR of 19:01 was run at McCallie which is a course, like Southern Showcase, that runs so fast athletes typically don't improve upon their time until the following season. Baylor will return every runner in 2022 which will make for yet another dog fight in this classification next season. 

Behind Greene were twin sisters Jazzlyn Garmer and Calysta Garmer who are 8th graders at the Webb School of Knoxville. It was clear after the first mile they were not going to back down from trying to win the race. They were basically shoulder to shoulder with Guillamondegui for the first half until she pulled away. Greene strategically hung back and was able to overtake both sisters over the last half mile of the race.  The only senior in the top 35 finishers of this race placed 17th. Every other runner will be returning in 2022. Statistically outlandish.