As expected, Daniel Boone easily won the boys Class AAA competition in the Region 1 cross country championships on Thursday. However, Science Hill pulled off a surprise on the girls’ side and knocked off Morristown West, the top-ranked team in the state.
In the Class A/AA ranks, Sullivan East edged Greeneville (52-53) by one point to win the boys crown, while the Greeneville beat University High 58-70 for the girls’ title.
For the Class AAA boys, the Trailblazers left no doubt as Adam Barnard, Roderick Bowman and Chad Whitehead finished second, third and fourth individually. James Garst and Jordan Roth added top-15 finishes as Boone rolled to a 32-76 win over Science Hill with Dobyns-Bennett third with 90 points.
Boone head coach Len Jeffers gave credit to his senior trio of Bowman, Whitehead and Roth for getting the rest of the team prepared.
“They’ve been an easy group to coach,” Jeffers said. “There hasn’t been any pushing them in practice. If anything, it’s been trying to coax them into easing up. I’ve had to tell them to be patient and not overdo it, even in practice.”
They had the right stride on Thursday with the sophomore Barnard (15:49) just six seconds behind individual champion Quintin McKinnish of Morristown West.
Meanwhile, Bowman ran close enough to keep his eye on the top two the whole race. He finished with a solid time of 16:21, nine seconds faster than he ran the same race a year ago.
“This whole year has been fabulous,” he said. “I guarantee you everybody on this team would tell you the same thing. They’re racing better than they ever thought they would.”
Whitehead set a personal record at 16:37 while finishing fourth overall.
“My goal was just to hang with my good friend, Roderick,” he said. “I was trying to catch him at the end and was closing in on him. It was my best time on this course and I couldn’t have done it without Roderick, Adam and the rest of the guys on the team.”
Ryan Becker, Davon Woodmancy, Noah Charles and Adam Montano all placed in the top 16 to lead Science Hill to the runner-up finish. Bradley Tongco rounded out the scoring with a 25th-place run.
Teammate also mattered on the girls’ side where the senior duo of Martha McCoy and Molly Foster gave Science Hill a 1-2 finish. The two have left quite a legacy on “The Hill” as it was McCoy’s first regional championship to go along with two titles for Foster.
“It felt pretty good today,” said McCoy after her run of 19:15. “We’ve been back and forth all year. I know next week she will probably be in front of me. We won as a team, that’s the big one. We’ve been best friends since eighth grade and I owe everything to Molly.”
Foster, whose time was 19:33, pointed out they weren’t alone in pushing the Lady ‘Toppers to the 29-52 win over the Lady Trojans. Sarah Fickley finished seventh, followed by Katie Lance in eighth and Alicia DeVos in 11th.
“Everybody just stepped up,” Foster said. “Our goal was every Morristown West girl we saw, you just got in there. It was for the team today. When we got tired, we just thought about the team.”
The victory wasn’t a total surprise to head coach Jennifer Brockett, although the 23-point margin was.
“We kept closing the gap on them,” Brockett said. “I really didn’t think we would be able to do that. They’ve been so strong all season, but my girls knew what to do at the right time.”
Carrigan Bishop of David Crockett qualified for the state as an individual with a sixth-place run.
University High also knew what to do at the right time as both the boys’ and girls’ teams qualified for next Saturday’s state meet in Nashville.
The Jr. Bucs finished third as Gabe Perry and Tanner Smith finished eighth and ninth, respectively. They were followed by Levi Carter (13th), Jackson Colvett (14th) and Tucker Rosenbusch (16th).
Despite their runner-up finish, the UH girls were more spread out with Taylor Rice (10th), Kirah Elliott (12th), Olivia Augsburger (15th), Alisha Elliott (20th) and Carly Owen (25th).
“I’m so proud of my teams,” University High head coach Dee Perry said. “We were down to 5-6 runners on both teams with injuries and people who left the team. To have people come up and four boys make All-Region, it’s incredible.”
It was bittersweet for her son, Gabe, a senior who raced on the course at Daniel Boone for a final time.
“It’s my 11th time racing here and Jackson’s 12th,” Perry said. ‘I’m happy we made it to state, but sad we won’t get to run here again.”
For the Class A/AA girls, Whitley True of Unicoi County was fifth and Elizabethton’s Abbi Pierce finished ninth as both qualified for the state meet as individuals.
Zach Long of Grainger (16:12) and Maddison Melchionna of Chuckey-Doak (20:51) won individual titles for the Class A/AA boys and girls.
Next week’s state meet at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park will begin at 2 p.m. for the public school divisions.