2021 TSSAA State XC Meet Recap: Division II Class A Boys

Division II Class A Boys

The Race Highlights

The Individual Race

Connor Henson and Trace Alexander had met one time prior to their region meet at Southern Showcase and at that race Henson bettered Alexander by eight seconds. My thought at the time was "well this may not be a good sample for how the two would race in a head to head environment" but as it turns out, 8 seconds was a pretty accurate baseline for how close the two would race. At their region championship, Alexander pressed for the lead early only for Henson to overtake him in the second half and win the Middle Region meet by 10 seconds. At state, the same script repeated itself. Alexander went straight to the front and set the pace for the first 3000 meters only for Henson to overtake him over the last 2000 meters of the race. Jump to 8:45 in the video below.

While I wasn't able to catch up with Alexander after the race, I was able to talk to his coach and I asked him "Is that just Trace's preference to run from the front?" and he said they felt like that was their only way to win with Henson's flat out speed so I imagine the strategy is to try their best to run away from him but that has not transpired. After this I went back to the state races in track where from May of 2020 where Henson completed the distance trifecta brining home three golds and the same race and outcome ensued in the 1600 and the 3200. On Friday, Henson gapped Alexander to repeat as state champion on the course winning with a time of 15:37 which betters his winning time from last season by 31 seconds.

Henson has since committed and signed with the University of Tennessee.

Looking ahead to track, I'll be curious to see a couple of things in this division. Will Henson try to triple again and will Alexander's race strategy change in track? In September, he was able to run a 4:23 in a midseason time trial. 

It'll be nice to potentially have every boys distance division take 4:20 or faster in order to win come May. 

As for this division in cross country in 2022, five of the top seven finishers graduate paving the way for another duel between midstate runners in Drew Johnson of DCA and Austin Cason of USN as the top returners.