The Daniel Boone cross country team found the perfect way to celebrate a milestone.
The Trailblazers easily captured the boys title at their own 40th annual Trailblazer Invitational by placing five runners in the top 15. Running a course where they practice regularly, the ’Blazers outdistanced runner-up Morristown West 42-119 with Greeneville in third place at 146.
The meet provided the harriers a perfect tune-up with the Region 1 meet scheduled for Oct. 25 at the same location.
“It was a good race for the boys,” Boone head coach Len Jeffers said. “We’ve got two weeks (before region) and it gives us a good feel for the course, how to race it, things you aren’t able to simulate in practice. It’s good to have this kind of race at this stage of the season.”
Sophomore Adam Barnard led the ’Blazers with a second-place finish at 15:59, some 20 seconds behind individual champion Quintin McKinnish of Morristown West. Despite living an hour apart, the top two finishers are close friends who often get together to train on the weekends.
“I know this course really well, but I also know Quintin’s tendencies,” Barnard said. “He’s probably my best friend and we train nearly every weekend. As far as the race strategy, I just wanted to get out fast and hang on to him as long as I could. I kept trying to go faster on the corners, but I didn’t have anything for him at the end.”
However, Barnard was the one who celebrated the team victory. Teammate Roderick Bowman finished one spot behind him with a time of 16:12. In addition, the trio of James Garst, Jordan Roth and Chad Whitehead were packed together in 12th, 13th and 14th as Boone easily wrapped up the title. While not counting among the team score, Jacob Cutshall and Caleb Cutshall also finished among the top-30 runners.
Individuals who placed in the top 25 included Ryan Becker and Adam Montano of Science Hill, and Gabe Perry of University High.
Elizabethton head Aaron Wood, whose boys finished 10th in the team competition, saw the meet as an opportunity to look at teams like Sullivan East and University High which the Cyclones will have to battle in the upcoming weeks.
“Going into the championship season, we’re really starting to find our team,” Wood said. “The A-AA class in our region is so competitive. We have three teams in our region fighting for two spots and we will have to see how it shakes out.”
On the girls’ side, Morristown West ran away with the team competition 28-85 over Tennessee High. Science Hill, competing without Sarah Fickley and Alicia DeVos, finished third and host Daniel Boone wound up fourth.
Mary Easton, a sophomore from Lebanon (Va.) High School, won the individual race at 19:20, two seconds ahead of Science Hill senior Molly Foster. While pleased to run her best time of the season, Foster blamed herself for a tactical error which cost her the win.
“I probably should have kicked a little sooner,” Foster said. “I tried to conserve my energy because I knew I had a strong kick at the end. Then, I was like, ‘The race is about to end. I should go now.’ It finally dawned on me that the finish line was there.”
Still, Foster felt good about the effort. She believes she and the rest of the Lady ‘Toppers will be factors at the regional meet.
“I feel pretty confident about it,” she said. “We’re veterans at this course. We know when to kick, how fast to start and we know who we need to be in front of.”
Among the other top finishers, Science Hill senior Martha McCoy was sixth and David Crockett freshman Carrigan Bishop was ninth. Also placing in the top 25 were Katie Lance of Science Hill in 19th, and the Daniel Boone duo fo Brittanie Hubbard and Alli Littleton, who finished 21st and 22nd, respectively.
In the team standings, Greeneville finished one position ahead of University High among the small schools, while David Crockett was ninth overall.
“We’ve really made a lot of progress,” Crockett head coach Mark Jennings said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids on the varsity. We have one junior and the rest are sophomores and freshmen, but, they all are improving. Carrigan is a contender to go to state, while we had four pr’s (personal records) today. It’s a good thing to build on for the future.”
As the meet director, Jeffers was pleased with another large turnout which included 22 teams on the boys’ side and 16 teams on the girls’ side.
“There were a few local teams which had conflicts with their schedules,” Jeffers said. “Still, all in all, it turned out well with all the teams which came out to compete. It’s a tradition and people look forward to coming to this meet.”