2022 Storyline: Can A Freshman Win Boy's Division I AAA?

Instagram Predictions

On July 13th, we posted a story on our Instagram page that simply asked followers "What is your prediction for the 2022 Cross County season?" After one day we received over 70 responses with more coming in. From now until the first gun fires, we'll analyze some of those predictions to help us prepare for the upcoming 2022 season.

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Prediction: A Freshman Will Win State In Division I Class AAA

"Owen Clemons Wins State"

A freshman winning an individual state championship occurs in the girl's division more frequently than it does in the boy's. In boy's, it is a rare occurrence and it requires a special talent and after watching Keegan Smith race last season, runners and spectators in this state may be a little desensitized to how uncommon it is. The only time it has ever occurred in Division I Class AAA was in 1998 when Andy Baksa of Farragut won. We may be in position to end that drought this season however. If this is your first time hearing the name Owen Clemons let me give you a little introduction. This is his 8th grade racing resume: 

1 Mile4:26.12
5k (Cross Country)15:17.27
2 Mile (Cross Country)10:19.30

This past spring, Clemons won the TMSAA 1600m State Championship for Class AA. He also won the TMSAA State Cross Country Championship in the fall. 

Splitting Time

Clemons didn't run exclusively in middle school races last year. Where he could, he would enter higher level competitions. In the fall, Clemons raced the 5k distance three times in fields of high school aged runners; once at Berry and two times at John Hunt Running Park. At the Southern Showcase, Clemons ran 15:46 finishing 12th among Tennessee Runners and at Garmin RunningLane he lowered his time to 15:17. Of returning runners, his time ranks only behind Keegan Smith, Will Douglas, and Miles Ramer all of who are defending state champions coming into this season. Of those, the only one he'll be in direct competition with in Division I Class AAA for a state title is Miles Ramer. Ramer bettered Clemons at Southern Showcase last season (the one race in which they were on the same course together) running a 15:29 to Clemons' 15:46. Ramer's best time last year of 15:10 also comes at Sanders Ferry Park which is not a notoriously fast course. He'll have a leg up on Clemons in experience and course familiarity when and if they line up there in November. Clemons has a chance but he has his work cut out for him. With most of the top teams and runners descending on Alabama a couple of times a year I anticipate we'll be able to see Clemons on the same course as those already mentioned as well as the likes of Hays Adams and Brody Chapman so we'll have an idea where he stands with them prior to state. With what we know today though, he's definitely in consideration. What do you think? 

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