The Lady Hilltoppers’ Lydia Lee was runner-up to West’s Makenzie Jones for the individual title, but combined with Halle Hausman and Gabrielle Mardis finishing third and fourth, their efforts pushed Science Hill to a 36-48 overall victory.
“I’m really surprised, but God has given us a great season,” Lee said after completing the 5-kilometer course in 19:13. “I’m really happy with the way we’ve done so far. We have a really good chance of doing well at state and a really good chance of being on the podium.”
So does Jones, who ran the course at 18:44 to run away with the victory. It came just two weeks after Lee had beaten her on the same course during the 43rd annual Trailblazer Invitational.
But, it was Science Hill’s overall depth which proved to be the major difference maker.
Hausman ran a 19:28 and Mardis finished in 20:06. Casey Miller (21:12) and Taylor Canfield (21:19) added finishes 13th and 14th individually to clinch to the team title.
“I’m proud of all the girls, how we’ve really worked hard to stay in a pack,” Miller said. “Lydia and Halle, they work really hard in practice and have given us motivation.”
David Crockett’s Breanna Roy, in her first race back from an injury, finished fifth individually at 20:13. She will be joined at next week’s state championship meet in Nashville by her sister, Taylor, whose 20:53 run was good enough for a 10th place finish.
Makayla Shaw of Daniel Boone also qualified for the state meet with a 20:34 run to finish seventh.
In the Class A/AA ranks, Elizabethton used a team effort to take a 48-73 win over University High.
Heather Feuchtenberger led the Lady Cyclones with a 22:23 run, good enough for a fourth-place finish. She was followed by Maci Shell (22:30) in fifth, Emily Schubert (22:36) in seventh, Lauren Pilkton (22:46) in ninth and Makayla Newman (24:48) in 23rd.
Elizabethton coach Amber Abel explained how the team met its goal of four runners in the top 10 by actually placing four in the top nine.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better race,” Abel said. “The girls had a great race strategy individually. They also had a plan as a whole and came across each mile marker where they were supposed to be. They worked with each other that way in practice and it was a perfect race for us.”
Abel further explained the Lady Cyclones had already made reservations for next week’s state meet, where they will be joined by the Lady Bucs.
University High was led by Ali Burns (22:44) in eighth place. Cora Allison added an 11th-place run, followed by Rebekah Owen in 15th, Grace McHean in 17th and Christina Fulcher in 22nd.
They were all well behind race winner Megan Todd of Unicoi County. The Blue Devils sophomore ran a 21:18 to finish 28 seconds ahead of runner-up Laura Bretscher of L&N Stem Academy.
Todd is 2-for-2 in the postseason after winning the Three Rivers Conference race nine days earlier.
“I had a plan early to try to get first,” Todd said. “I noticed the one girl had a time close to mine and I knew I had to compete to stay ahead of her.”
In addition to her strategy to stay out front, Todd trained for the race by running with members of the Unicoi County boys’ team.
“They’re tough to run with,” Todd said. “But it’s really been helping me, having someone to push me through.”