UC, OC cross country runners improve, but not satisfied with finish at state meet

UC, OC cross country runners improve, but not satisfied with finish at state meet
UC, OC cross country runners improve, but not satisfied with finish at state meet | UC, OC cross country runners improve, but not satisfied with finish at state meet
By KEVIN WEAKS
Messenger Sports
NASHVILLE — The bar has been set pretty high.
So high, in fact, that improvement from the previous year was appreciated but not completely satisfying.
The Obion Central girls and Union City’s Daniel Williamson were better at the 2011 TSSAA State Cross Country Meet than they were in 2010 but closed out the season a little lower than planned.
“That’s three places better than last year, but it wasn’t where we wanted to be,” OC head coach Pam Daniel said of the Lady Rebels’ seventh-place spot in the team standings. “I’m not disappointed. We improved     and I’m proud of the kids. But we wanted to be better than that this year.”
Williamson’s leap up the leaderboard was even more dramatic, medaling with an 11th-place spot to cap off his junior season as the Golden Tornadoes’ only cross country runner.
“We had a 95th last year so, obviously, we were shooting for something better this year,” UC coach Eddie Suiter said. “We came in realistically thinking top 10, maybe top 5. It was a faster race. It was a lot faster than last year. The guys up front ran a great race, but I thought Daniel did, too.”
Both coaches have lauded the coaching help provided this year by Chuck Parks, an avid runner knowledgable of cross country who has worked with OC and Williamson.
The final meet of the season — for all classifications — was held Saturday at the Steeplechase Course of Percy Warner Park.
Central finished in seventh place overall with 194 total points. OC had a total time of 1:52:41.83, an average time of 22:46.85.
Williamson, meanwhile, ran the course in 17:00.32. It was the second-fastest time posted by a West Tennessee runner, just under four seconds off Trinity Christian’s Ben Maroney (16:56.40).
The Obion Central boys posted an impressive 16th place overall in the team standings with 489 points.
The seven Rebel runners covered the course in a total time of 1:38:54.08 for an average time of 19:46.82.
Usually clustered together, the Lady Rebels had too many runners between them in this meet, lowering the team’s score.
OC’s top runner earned 17 points, which was followed by gaps in points of eight, 17, 10 and six.
“We had some gaps in our placements,” Daniel said. “When you have big-point gaps between your second and third runners, third and fourth, it just spreads you out too far.”
Freshman Rachel Jones led the Lady Rebel contingent with a time of 22:03.11, finishing 27th overall and 17th among runners as members of teams entered in the state meet.
Peyton Daniel, a sophomore, finished 39th overall (25 points) in a time of 22:31.33, while freshman Nichole Whitson was 62nd (42) in 22:56.01.
Senior Brittney Dodd was fourth among the Lady Rebels, her 77th-place finish in a time of 23:27.61 earning 52 points. Brenna Wilkins, a sophomore, was 89th overall (58 points) in a time of 23:41.47 to round out the Lady Rebels’ scoring.
Whittney Dodd and Kris Story, both seniors, finished 108th and 114th in respective times of 24:16.63 and 24:28.54.
Williamson had to keep up with a fast pace that was set right out of the starting gate. While he began to wear down some near the two-mile point of the race, Williamson was still able to pace several runners near the end to earn his medal.
The top 15 individual runners earn medalist honors.
“The pace was set early,” Suiter said. “It was a faster pace than usual, faster than Daniel usually runs, but he still had a little left in the tank. When I saw him coming over the hill, he was 16th, 17th but he still had enough to take down some people down the stretch.
“I think it’s one of the best races he’s run. He talked about being tired at mile two, and that’s not usual for him. But to still have something left at the end and gain some spots shows a lot about his heart and determination.”
Suiter expects that work ethic to pay off with a higher finish next year, too.
“Last year, he knew he was probably going to get to state every year, so he could’ve been content with that,” Suiter said. “But, he’s worked hard, and I guarantee he’ll work hard again next year because he’s not content with 11th place. I like that he thinks he has a shot and will try to come in and win this thing next year.” Drake Campbell, a senior, was the top Rebel runner with a 94th overall spot clocking a 19:11.99.
Junior Alex Terrell was next for OC, 120th in a time of 19:40.09, and then fellow juniors Jackson Smith (19:47.83), Dakota Eaves (20:04.67) and Coleman Dunn (20:09.50) followed at 127th, 135th and 141st, respectively.
Senior Drew Crews placed 172nd in a time of 21:50.49, and junior Ian Miller was 184th with a 22:24.39 time.
The A-AA meets hosted 179 girls’ runners and 193 boys’ runners.
Published in The Messenger 11.7.11

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