Run for the Hills: Varghese leads Boone boys to victory

Jeff Birchfield • Aug 27, 2016 at 5:15 PM

BLUFF CITY — Ben Varghese was ready to pick up the pace.

For the first mile of the varsity boys’ race at the Run for the Hills cross country meet at South Holston Dam, the Daniel Boone senior, along with Science Hill senior Alex Crigger, settled in behind Karl Thiessen of Abingdon.

But Varghese didn’t feel they were going fast enough so he bolted out front with Crigger in tow.

Varghese pulled away from Crigger over the final mile and posted a winning time of 16:02.

“I thought the pace was a little slow and I needed to take it to another gear,” Varghese said. “Overall, that race felt incredibly smooth because I was mentally prepared for it. I was never at a point where I told myself that I couldn’t do it.”

Boone had five runners finishes 16th or better and won the team competition, 46-81, over Watauga (N.C). Abingdon finished third with 91 points, followed by Science Hill with 94 and University High at 185.

Beyond Varghese, Daniel Boone had Zac Branham run a 17:20 to finish fifth and Chance Bowman go 17:37 to finish ninth.

The Trailblazers also got points from Matt Huff (15th) and Connor Loyd (16th).

“It was a good solid run by Ben and he set the tone for the team,” Boone coach Len Jeffers said. “This is a very close-knit group whether they’re in practice or in the races. We have just good, smart kids who listen and do the things they’re supposed to do.”

Crigger did what he could for Science Hill. He completed the course in 16:39 to earn the runner-up spot.

“In the beginning, Karl set the pace and Ben and I hung back,” Crigger said. “But at the end of that first mile, Ben took the lead and I just tried to stay with him.”

It was a challenge for the rest of the Science Hill squad to keep up on a very hot morning.

Caleb Seeley finished 20th for the Hilltoppers, while Cole Benedict (23rd), Gavin Ledford (25th) and Aaron Jones (28th) rounded out the scoring.

“It was a very tough course with a lot of heat,” Science Hill boys coach Ryan Edwards said. “We told them to focus more on beating people and no sot so much on our times. It’s a good test for us early to see where we’re at. I’m proud of Alex and his performance as well as the rest of them.”

Sophomore Porter Bradley led University High’s strong showing by placing seventh individually. He ran the course in 17:28, while Pablo Rivas (18:16) finished 17th out of 164 individuals.

David Crockett finished eighth out of the 22 teams entered.

The Pioneers wore Superman ribbons on their jerseys to honor former teammate Dakoatah Lyons, an All-State runner who died tragically last May.

Senior Andrew Keys led Crockett with a run of 19:30, followed by Camren Butler at 19:34

Among the other local schools, John Campbell led Unicoi County at 20:29, Ethan Cook went 20:43 for Providence Academy, Tristan Morley finished in 22:15 for Happy Valley and Corbin Hazelwood ran a 22:28 to pace Elizabethton.

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