If Saturday morning’s Bluegrass Cross Country Festival is any indication, the future looks bright for the Science Hill cross country programs.
Against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, freshman Alex Crigger led the Science Hill boys to a runner-up finish behind Myers Park (N.C.) on the Veterans Administration grounds. It was the same deal on the girls’ side, as freshman Halle Hausman was the top finisher on a Lady ’Topper team that also ranked second to Myers Park.
“Alex had a great race,” Science Hill head coach Jennifer Brockett said. “He’s been training hard with Bradley (Tongco) and Noah (Charles), and racing with them. He’s figuring it out now.
“For the girls, we knew Sarah (Fickley) was going to step in and be a great leader. She’s stepped in and trained Halle. When Sarah leaves next year, Halle will have a good concept of what she needs to race well.”
The meet was dominated by Myers Park, a team out of Charlotte which finished fifth in the North Carolina girls’ Class 4A meet last season. The Myers Park girls won by a 19-62 margin over Science Hill, with Tennessee High finishing third with 83 points. The boys’ competition was closer, a 39-47 victory for the Mustangs over the Hilltoppers with Tennessee High third again with 89 points.
Wesley Pectol of Greeneville took boys’ individual honors, with his smooth stride leading to a time of 16:08. Taking advantage of picture-perfect conditions, he shaved 40 seconds off his time from the same meet a year ago, and finished 34 seconds ahead of Greene Devils teammate Zach Weaver.
“I felt good this morning and decided to push it really hard,” Pectol said. “I knew this course would be fast. It was rolling, but with a good surface. It was blue skies, a little chilly, about the perfect conditions to run.”
Crigger was the surprise of the day with his fourth-place effort of 17:19. He didn’t expect such a strong result going into the early morning race.
“I’m just shocked right now,” he said. “We have a lot of great runners like Noah Charles and Bradley Tongco and I’m shocked. It’s a difficult course with hills straight up and down, but it helps that we train here all the time. I knew where we were going, where at the end we were picking up speed. I just decided to run hard and I ran pretty good.”
Tongco finished eighth (18:00), followed by Charles in 10th (18:14), Keaton Parr in 11th (18:16) and Joshua Lance in 14th (18:27). Joe Whitaker and Cameron Hopkins also finished in the top 20, although their scores didn’t count among the team total.
Noah Smith of University High finished sixth (17:45) as the Junior Bucs wound up seventh in the team competition.
Mary Prouty of Myers Park won the girls’ race at 19:32 while her teammate, Kate Eiselt, was 10 seconds behind. Macy Carrier of Tennessee High was third (19:48), breaking up a Lady Mustangs monopoly of the top-five positions.
Among the Science Hill efforts, Hausman was sixth (20:03), followed by Fickley 10th (20:32), Casey Miller 16th (22:12) and Micayla Moody 18th (22:55). Katie Simpson and Courtney Keith also finished in the top 25.
“It was exciting, racing against some good competition,” Brockett said. “I was pleased to race against Myers Park today.”
Elizabethton posted a solid effort, taking fifth in both the boys’ and girls’ team results. The Cyclones were led by Cody Baker and Tristan Causby, both finishing at 18:56. Maci Shell paced the Elizabethton girls with a 20:47 run, good enough for 11th place.
“We had a huge day,” Elizabethton coach Aaron Wood said. “The boys took a really big step today. To come out against such a competitive field, our top seven finished in a good pack, and that was what we were going for. It’s an indicator of how well we can do later this season when the times start to drop. People are starting to notice we’re coming around a little bit.”