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For the Daniel Boone boys, it was about carrying on a championship tradition.
Led by a 1-2 finish by juniors Adam Barnard and James Garst on their home course, the Trailblazers won their second straight Region 1-AAA cross country championship on Thursday. It led head coach Len Jeffers to invoke the name of past Boone coaches, who led the ’Blazers to state titles in 1981 and 1998.
“We knew all the marbles relied on today’s race so we wanted to come out and put our best foot forward,” Jeffers said. “We wanted to add to some of the tradition that was established by Carl Winkle and George Moody years ago. The boys were ready to run. They knew what was at stake and they wanted to do it.”
Overall, Boone placed three runners in the top four and five in the top 11 to win 28-73 over second-place Science Hill. Add in a 15th-place finish by Ashton Wilson and there were six Boone runners who earned All-Region honors.
Barnard was the class of the field, barely needing to catch his breath after a winning run of 16:13.
“The main goal today was to get myself and my team to state,” Barnard said. “We were able to accomplish that. It is starting to get down where it’s a little more individual, but we had big hopes as a team. We wanted to do better than we did at conference. A personal win for myself and a team win, you can’t ask for anything better than that.”
Garst kept Barnard in his sights, finishing eight seconds behind at 16:21. They stayed together throughout the race for the 1-2 finish.
“Our training has been great all week and we felt great coming into this race,” Garst said. “We love this course and it was just a good race.”
Behind them, Josh Routh finished fourth (16:30), followed by Mitch Bronstetter 10th (17:05) and Jacob Cutshall 11th (17:15).
Science Hill had a solid day, runner-up in both the boys’ and girls’ competition. It meant both squads qualified for next week’s state championships in Nashville.
Makenzie Jones won the girls’ individual title (18:43) to lead Morristown West to a 30-58 team victory over Science Hill.
Fourth-place Sarah Fickley ranked highest for the Hilltoppers. She crossed the line fourth with a time of 19:23, three seconds and one position ahead of teammate Halle Hausman.
“I’ve had a minor injury going on, but I just decided I wasn’t going to think about it,” Fickley said. “I was going to push back the pain and keep going. I just went and didn’t think about it.”
Katie Lance finished 12th (20:14), while Alicia DeVos and Casey Miller added finishes of 18th and 19th to give the Lady ‘Toppers the runner-up spot.
“They packed together and did what they needed to do,” Science Hill coach Jennifer Brockett said. “Five inside the top 20, we’ll take that. I know Morristown West had a bunch up there, but I like where this team is right now. We’ve also got some good girls coming up next year, and that’s always the goal -- not to rebuild, but reload.”
In the boys’ race, freshman Alex Crigger led Science Hill with a sixth-place effort and a time of 16:40. Noah Charles finished seventh (17:01) and Bradley Tongco was ninth (17:04) as the ‘Toppers placed three inside the top 10.
Keaton Parr (18:16) and Harrison Barrett (18:21) added finishes of 25th and 27th to secure the runner-up finish.
“The top three boys definitely had a great race. They looked strong,” Brockett said. “I was very pleased with the pack behind our (top) three as well. Everything is coming into place. We’ve worked on making sure they peak at the right time, and hit where they’re supposed to be hitting.”
Dobyns-Bennett also qualified for state championships with a pair of third-place finishes.
Coming off a state runner-up finish a year ago, Daniel Boone boys will be among the favorites. However, they will have to contend with a nationally-ranked Brentwood team.
“Brentwood is an unbelievable favorite, ranked No. 5 in the nation,” Jeffers said. “It would be one heck of a chore, but they’ve never wavered at any meet and they’ve never backed down from going head-to-head against whoever is there. They’re going to go next week and give it their best shot. We will see what happens.”