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University High captured the Region 1-A/AA boys’ cross country championship on Thursday at Daniel Boone High School for its first regional title since 2009.
Noah Jones (17:25) and Levi Carter (17:44) had individual finishes of sixth and seventh as the Junior Bucs finished ahead of runner-up Sullivan East 56-69 in the team standings.
“We were really struggling early in the season, but the boys worked hard to turn it around,” UH coach Dee Perry said. “I’ve got to thank Landon Milhorn, the former ETSU runner who has been helping coach the boys. They responded well to Landon, but they worked hard and wanted to win this. They wanted us to bring that championship plaque back home again.”
A mixture of youth and experience was needed to haul in the prize. Freshman Zach Branham finished 10th (18:09), while seniors Hayden Simmons and Tanner Smith placed 15th and 18th in the individual standings.
“My fifth boy, I’m really proud of him,” Perry said. “Tanner had a stress fracture and he’s not even run since Sept. 15. He was tough. Without Tanner, he wouldn’t have made it today.”
Wesley Pectol of Greeneville easily captured the individual title with his time of 15:44, nearly 23 seconds ahead of runner-up Zach Long of Grainger. Pectol enjoyed being out front at the Daniel Boone course where he hasn’t always had the best times.
“It was a good race and it felt good,” Pectol said. “I like this course, but the funny thing is I never ran very well on it the past three years. I don’t know what it was, but I just felt so much better on this course today.”
Addie Leonard made it a Greeneville sweep of the individual titles with her run of 20:32, placing her 31 seconds ahead of teammate Hannah Rhodes.
As a result, Greeneville won the girls’ team competition 34-61 over Sullivan East with University High third with 82 points.
Elizabethton’s Maci Shell finished third individually at 21:30, and Whitley True of Unicoi County finished 10th (22:38) to make her the final individual to qualify for the state meet.
University High’s Cora Allison finished one spot behind Shell in fourth. Others who scored for the Lady Bucs were: Olivia Augsburger (eighth), Rebekah Owen (12th), Ashley Daniel (20th) and Makenzie Taylor (44th).
“I’m really proud of my girls,” Perry said. “We came into today with only two (runners) from varsity. The other three were eighth-graders we moved up after their eighth-grade race. That’s all we had.”