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Daniel Boone, Science Hill finish among state’s elite at cross country

Jeff Birchfield • Nov 7, 2015 at 7:31 PM

NASHVILLE — Daniel Boone finished in the top three at the TSSAA Class AAA boys’ state cross country meet at Percy Warner Park, but the Trailblazers took the most satisfaction of being one spot ahead of Science Hill.

After the Hilltoppers had beaten the ’Blazers in the Big 7 Conference and Region 1-AAA championships, it was a definite goal of Boone to finish ahead of their rivals at the state meet.

“We had three All-State runners and it was accomplishment when everybody had counted out Daniel Boone cross country,” Boone assistant coach Ray Jones said. “When people make comments that we weren’t that good and it was their time to win, today we proved how good we were.”

Brentwood won the state championship with 63 points, followed by Oak Ridge at 87, Boone at 110 and Science Hill at 121.

It was the fifth year in a row that Boone finished in the top five of the state and the fourth row in a row the ’Blazers finished in the top three.

Josh Routh ran a 15:50 and finished individual state runner-up to Brentwood’s Brodey Hasty to lead the Boone charge.

“It’s a tremendous honor and all the glory goes to God,” said Routh, who finished 15 seconds behind Hasty. “That’s been the motto all year because that’s where my strength comes from.”

Ben Varghese finished just a second behind Routh in fourth place, and Mitch Bronstetter finished 13th with a run of 16:31 to also earn All-State honors.

“Josh and Ben have been front runners all year,” Jeffers said. “Mitch coming in as our third runner, making All-State, and with our No. 4 and No. 5 guys, a huge accomplishment for our team which had been counted out.”

Chance Bowman finished 55th at 17:14 and Zac Branham was 58th at 17:16 to round out the scoring for Boone.

For Science Hill, Noah Charles ran a 16:08 and paced the ’Toppers with a fifth-place individual finish. The senior decided his best strategy was to hang with the lead pack instead of concentrating on a certain pace.

“It was amazing. The guys went out really fast and we got outside the gate and everybody started going.,” Charles said. “I wanted to stay as close as I could to the top pack instead of letting everybody pass me. I was about eighth the whole race and then I was able to pass some people at the end.”

Charles talked about the team accomplishments of the Hilltoppers, who had beaten Boone twice over the previous two weeks.

“Such a great season. We were conference champions, region champions and fourth in the state, you can’t beat it,” Charles said.

Alex Crigger with a seventh-place run of 16:15 joined Charles on the All-State podium. The Hilltoppers had set lofty goals going into the season and Crigger pointed out that most of them were reached.

“We wanted to do a little better than we did here, but getting All-State, that’s awesome,” Crigger said. “We raced great today. Going into this season, we had high hopes and we were able to achieve most of them.”

Behind the top two, Science Hill was able to successfully pack together and actually had five runners across the finish line before Boone did.

Malick Gemechu (17:00) finished 42nd with teammate Alex Grajeda (17:03) one position behind. Harrison Barrett was only three seconds and three positions behind Grajeda.

While a fourth-place in state was certainly something not to be discounted, the Hilltoppers coach admitted they had visions of doing even better.

“We were a little disappointed because we wanted a little more,” Science Hill coach Jennifer Brockett said. “But, you have to go out that day and do it. This Boone and Science Hill rivalry has been good because it drives both teams. It helps them in a race because they know who they can run with, but it also helps drive them. It’s a good rivalry.”

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