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OC gals fit nicely with elite

OC gals fit nicely with elite
OC gals fit nicely with elite

Obion Central’s Jordan Jones and Kelsey Barnes lead the way during Saturday’s Class A-AA state championship cross country meet.
NASHVILLE — The youthful Obion Central girls’ cross country team finished right where it wanted to on Saturday.
The Lady Rebels, who ran five sophomores, one freshman and a senior at the TSSAA Class A-AA state championship meet at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, finished smack dab in the middle of the 23-team field with a 12th-place finish.
“We knew coming in that this was a learning experience for our team,” OC cross country coach Pam Daniel said after the program’s first appearance as a team at the state meet since 2002, when the county locals finished as the state’s runner-up. “Now, our girls have a taste of what it is like up here and they’ve got to see the course at the state meet and hopefully, we can build on that for next season.
“Overall, I’m very proud of the dedication of this squad and to see that, you don’t have to look any further than our seniors. We have seven seniors on our squad this year and only one was running, but the rest of them — aside from one who has some basketball responsibilities — made the trip in support of their younger teammates.”
Overall, sophomore Kelsey Barnes offered the best individual performance for the Lady Rebels, who earned the berth thanks to a third-place showing at the Region 7A-AA meet, as she finished the 3.1-mile course in 22:21 – good enough for 45th out of 177 runners, but nearly three minutes of the mark of the event’s overall winner Miranda Klein (19:36) from David Lipscomb.
Jordan Jones, the lone Central senior taking part in the event, was nearly a minute behind Barnes as she came in 69th with a time of 23:25.
“This was a good way for Jordan and the rest of our seniors to end their season,” Daniel said. “All of these girls have worked extremely hard for our cross country program and they deserved to be recognized at this high level for all of their efforts.”
Otherwise, Obion Central sophomore Mandi McDaniel (24:18) crossed the finish line near the middle of the pack in 88th, while Katie Hardin and Katie Beth VanCleave were 95th and 98th with respective times of 24:37 and 24:46.
Freshman Whittney Dodd ran the course in 25:19 — good for 114th and Hope Montgomery finished 147th with a time of 27:12 for the Lady Rebels.
“The state meet was a good measuring stick for where we are now and where we need to be,” Daniel said. “In order for us to compete for a state championship as an individual or as a team in the coming years, we are going to have to shave a few minutes off of our times.”
OC girls cross country team members who did not run at the state meet were Mallori Graddy, Maddi Bell, Katherine Parker, Autumn Yates, Brittney Dodd, Jennifer Brooks, Lindsey Rainey, Chelsea Hogg, Emily Williams, Laura Burpo, Sarah Guy and Katie Donaldson.
Parker, Donaldson, Guy, Rainey, Hogg and Williams were the team’s seniors aside from the aforementioned Jones.
In the overall meet, the University School of Johnson City won the state championship, with Knoxville Catholic the runner-up and David Lipscomb third.
The University School of Jackson was the highest finishing Region 7A-AA representative as they placed sixth overall. Jackson Christian School, the 7A-AA runner-up, earned eighth place at state.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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