On Saturday morning, the course was made even tougher — becoming more of a quagmire than anything. The mud and sloshy ground made for slow times and had a “real” cross country feel like that found in Europe.
Daniel Boone took home the boys team title while Dobyns-Bennett nabbed the girls trophy.
On the individual side, D-B senior Emma Russum came up with her first-ever win in a high school cross country race in 19:58.9. Science Hill senior Aaron Jones broke away late on the big downhill to claim the boys title in 17:03.5.
RUSSUM PULLS AWAY LATE
“We went through this part back in the woods where there was like a foot of water,” Russum said. “Going up the hill back in that area was where I broke away. … The team ran really well today. The times really weren’t that fast today, but we placed well and we look good going into our races in September.”
Russum — who gets forgotten running in the company of Sasha Neglia — is probably, based on average, the third best runner in Northeast Tennessee.
It was a big deal for her to win a race on Saturday.
“It was fun and that was my goal going into today,” she said.
Said D-B head coach Bob Bingham: “We’re pretty deep this year and that’s good to see. Emma has gotten better and better every year. It’s good to see her win. I call her either Sasha’s “Robin” or they are Jordan and Pippen. When I call them Jordan and Pippen, they don’t know what I’m talking about.
“I’ve got four seniors that are really close and they’re all good in the classroom. All four of them have a weighted average of 4.5 or over and all of them are in the top 13 of their class. It’s a unique bunch.”
The Lady Indians had all of their scoring five in the top 15, finishing with 34 points. Daniel Boone was second with 48 points, led by a fourth-place overall finish from freshman Kamryn Wingfield in 21:11.8.
Other notables were Tennessee High freshman Zoe Arrington nabbing runner-up honors in 20:39.4 and Sullivan East’s Mandy Lowery finishing sixth on her home course in 21:27.0. Sullivan South’s Cara Taylor also had a good day, finishing 14th in 22:18.7.
JONES RUNS AWAY FROM THE FIELD
The Science Hill senior made quick work of a solid field, breaking away before the 1 1/2-mile mark on the swampy course. Jones and teammate Ray Richardson found themselves ahead of the field within the first half-mile and only Boone’s Conner Wingfield was able to break them up.
“I threw in a big surge after Ray and I were up in the woods and Conner caught us,” Jones said. “I have a lot more confidence going into races. I know that I can throw in some big surges and run with some of those guys that I maybe couldn’t have run with before.”
The Hilltoppers finished in second place behind conference rival Boone, which finished with 28 points. Science Hill had 50 points to round out the day.
The Trailblazers have historically done well in the first race of the season and Saturday was no exception as the entire scoring five finished inside the top 10.
Behind Wingfield’s runner-up finish, Austin Galloway was fourth (17:54), Max Austin fifth (17:56) and brothers Bryson and Mason Lewis eighth and ninth, respectively.
“We do have more depth this year and this is such a close group of kids in all aspects,” Boone head coach Len Jeffers said. “It’s so early in a long season, so we have to be a little careful. … It was a good, smart run by Conner. He’s still learning some things other than to just go race. He’s smart and he listens and he’s very coachable, much like everyone else on the team.
“This team has really gotten that team concept first and not really focusing on the individual stuff. It’s been a good experience during this part of the season.”
Other notable top-15 finishes included Sullivan South’s Dillon Youngblood (seventh, 18:06) and University High’s Nick Daniel (12th, 18:31.2).