Varghese sets record as Boone romps to Region 1-AAA title

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Oct 27, 2016 at 7:12 PM

Ben Varghese continued his march through the Daniel Boone record books while leading his team to a romp in the Region 1 Class AAA boys’ cross country championships on Thursday.

Varghese ran a 15:24 on the home course to break the region record of 15:37 set by former teammate Adam Barnard in 2014.

But for Varghese, he was more focused on the team result which saw the Trailblazers easily outdistance second-place South-Doyle by a 20-80 margin.

“It’s great to come back here and run so well on our course,” Varghese said. “Science Hill won the region title here last year, so we wanted to reclaim it. I’m really proud of our team. I might have gotten the region record, but I’m so much more happy that my team got first today.”

Varghese already had a good lead at the end of one lap over Science Hill’s Alex Crigger, who finished runner-up with a 15:45 run. Crigger was also focused on the team results, thrilled to see his team finish with 87 points, 12 points ahead of Dobyns-Bennett for third-place, and the final position to qualify for next week’s state meet.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Crigger said. “We’ve been working all year for this moment and to have it happen when one of our runners went down with an injury, it’s incredible.”

Beyond the two seniors up front, Boone took the next three poistions.

Zac Branham finished in 16:22, followed by Chance Bowman (16:52) and Caleb Sells (16:55). Matt Huff (17:03) in seventh rounded out out the team scoring, while Daniel Johnson (17:29) in 14th earned all-region honors.

Connor Loyd (17:52) also ran strong for Boone and finished 19th.

“I’m not going to say that’s surprising because I’m never surprised with this team,” Boone coach Len Jeffers said. “They are a team with a capital T. They’ve not only bought into what we’re trying to do as seniors, but they’ve incorporated it all the way to the freshman. It’s a family-oriented type of season and a very close knit group. They’ve come every day with a good work ethic and they support each other. It has been a fun season up to this point.”

Science Hill’s season became a little more fun with scoring from Thomas Seeley (17:22) in 11th, Cole Benedict (17:50) in 18th, Gavin Ledford (18:03) in 25th and Justin Canfield (18:24) in 36th.

The boys’ effort came on the heels of Science Hill finishing second in the girls’ competition.

Dobyns-Bennett won with 24 points, followed by the Lady ’Toppers with 67 points and Morristown West with 77 points.

D-B freshman Sasha Neglia won the individual race at 17:53, and Science Hill senior Halle Hausman was second at 18:39.

“I was super excited my last time running on this course,” Hausman said. “It was evident that God was with us. We had two varsity girls who couldn’t make it today, but we still made it to the state. I’m so proud of the team, the way they stepped it up and tried their hardest where we could make it to state.”

Gabrielle Mardis (20:14) in 11th, Casey Miller (20:50) in 15th, Taylor Canfield (21:28) in 18th and Destiny Haller (21:30) in 20th also scored point for the Lady ’Toppers.

Daniel Boone missed out on qualifying as a team with 95 points and Makayla Shaw missed out as an individual by one spot with an 11th-place run.

Shaw (19:51) did earn all-region honors, while Gracie Murray barely missed all-region by finishing 17th place.

David Crockett had two qualify for the state as sisters Breanna and Taylor Roy finished sixth and ninth, respectively.

It was an emotional moment for Breanna, who has suffered through injuries much of this season. She said she felt the presence of fallen teammate Dakoatah Lyons, who died earlier this year, as she entered the final stretch.

“I didn’t think I would finish in the top 10,” Breanna said. “The last lap, I was coming up the hill and I was like, ‘I can’t do it.’ All of a sudden it felt like he was there yelling at me, telling me to go faster and I got this big surge of energy. I about cried coming up the final hill.”

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