UH girls finish second in state; Daniel places fourth for Bucs

Tanner Cook • Updated Nov 2, 2019 at 9:43 PM

NASHVILLE — Having to replace a multitude of seniors from a string of state titles, University High’s rebuilding cross country program took a big step in the right direction on Saturday afternoon at Percy Warner Steeplechase Park in the small class races.

The girls, who were projected outside the top five, finished as the team runner-up with 119 points. What made it even tougher was that the Lady Buccaneers had no one finish inside the top 15 for all-state honors.

Signal Mountain dominated the field, placing all of its scorers inside the top 15 and accumulating 43 points. Fairview freshman Alyssa Andrea won in 20:26.71.

The highest UH finisher on the girls side was Isabelle Johnson in 16th (22:16), followed closely by Anna Bader in 18th (22:28).

“What we really preach at University School is to run as a pack and run as a team,” UH head coach Maggie Whitson said. “Today, it helped the girls clinch a runner-up finish. We didn’t have any all-staters, but they knew they had to do it for each other.”

Happy Valley’s Holly Moore ran a smart race and was one of the top local finishers in 19th (22:30) on the girls’ side.

For the boys, UH sophomore and regional champion Nick Daniel was running in second for a good portion of the race — before crossing in fourth place in 17:17.34.

Daniel had big goals in mind coming in, looking for top 15, but his coach had a different plan in mind.

“Nick has gone out hard every single race and our goal has just been to try to maintain it,” Whitson said. “He wanted a top 15 and I told him I wanted a top-five finish. He finished fourth, so he exceeded my expectations as well.”

The Bucs, even after losing two key seniors in Porter Bradley and Blake Ryan, finished fourth as a team after not being projected to land in the top 10.

“I felt like I held on to the pace pretty good after going out hard,” Daniel said. “I’m really proud of how the team has come along this year. Even after losing two seniors last year, it shows how much work we put into it seeing that we built it almost back up the level it was last year.”

“We had three people within the top seven that had ever run at this state meet coming in,” Whitson said. “This a whole new look and a brand new team. They really stepped it up today with how smart they ran.”

Signal Mountain won easily on the boys side as well, finishing with 47 points. Seth Jinks of L&N Stem Academy was the individual champion in 16:39.27.

No other boys finished inside the top 30 for the small class race.

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