Heritage kicked off the 2011 cross country season in a fashionable manner at the Cherokee Classic 5K last Saturday.
On the Lady Mountaineers side, veteran anchors Lauren Barnes (21:14.40) and Joy Elfstrom (23:06.70) both performed admirably, finishing 17th and 48th, respectively.
“My race this weekend was good, but it wasn’t near what I have run on the course before,” Barnes, a senior, said. “However, I recently began speed training, so I plan on getting faster as the season goes on. Also, the team’s showing this weekend is a result of how hard everyone has worked in practice. We should definitely start seeing personal records by season’s end.”
“I thought overall for the first meet of the season we did well as a team,” Elfstrom said. “Personally, I raced according to what I had in me, but I am looking forward to seeing my improved times in the upcoming meets.”
Junior Lauren Carter and sophomore Ellen Moyers both concluded the event in the top 180 racers.
“Being the first meet, most of them set goals and most of them were achieved, which is definitely a good thing,” Heritage coach Kelly Barnes said. “A lot of the new runners found out their potential and will be able to build off of that.
“Individually, I was really impressed with our two freshman boys who finished second and third on our team. Both made huge strides for us, which was extremely important.”
Mountaineer team captain John Rose, a Region 2-AAA qualifier from 2010, began his senior campaign with a time of 19:10.70, good for 74th place. Right behind him was freshmen Devon Gardner. Rounding out the Mountaineer runners were Robbie Chambers, Charlie Roberts, Jacob Woolford and Cody Woolford.
The Mountaineers will look to build off the early momentum this Saturday at The Volunteer Classic.
For the Governors, veteran leadership will be a primary focus in 2011 as 15 of the 24 participants in last weekend’s race were returning runners.
“We’re a pretty experienced team, which is crucial since we are in the toughest region in the state,” William Blount coach Chris Frary said. “These kids ran a lot last year, and I can already see they are starting to apply some of that race experience to this season.”
That high-level of experience was evident in the results, particularly on the boys’ side. The Governors racked up a sixth overall team finish, a six-spot improvement from last year’s event. In addition, the William Blount boys placed eight runners in the top 100 in a race of 305.
Senior Adam Barton (40th at 18:12.40), sophomore Ian Roberts (43rd at 18:19.00) and junior Morgan Parker (45th at 18:21.40) led home the Blue Train. Seniors Everett Gronstom (63rd) and Collin Ridenour (77th) followed, with sophomore Brandon Groover (90th), junior Justus Bell (97th) and freshman Walker Gronstom (99th) rounding out the double-digit finishers.
Emmett Smith, Russell Godkin, Cole Buckner, Dylan Groover, Elijah White, Derek Scarbro, Gary Page, Collin Bentley and Adam Bitner all contributed to the opening weekend success with sub 27-minute results.
This deep squad should make the Governors a prominent force in the region throughout the 2011 campaign.
Despite fielding less than half the amount of participants as their male counterparts, the William Blount girls were just as encouraging. The Lady Governors ended the afternoon with a seventh overall. The strong outing was anchored by senior Sarah Wilson’s time of 21:39.60, good for 23rd place out of 194.
Freshman Jessica Boring debuted nicely for William Blount, concluding in 23:29.30 (55th), while sophomores Allison Sayne (23.57.20), Jennifer Houser (24:05.40) and Elizabeth Bales (24.32.70) all finished in the top 100, finishing 60th, 64th, and 80th respectively. Chancey Straily (94th) and Kelsey Marshall completed the list of William Blount competitors.
Overall, Frary was pleased with the performance of both squads.
“It was a pretty solid performance given where we are in our early training right now. I thought our team ran pretty consistently,” he said. “We need to decrease the gap a little in our top runners on the guys’ side, but overall it was a strong first outing on both sides, and I cannot complain.”
William Blount will next participate in the Hardin Valley Invitational on Sept. 17.