By KEVIN WEAKS
Now that Obion County’s contingent for the Class A-AA State Cross Country Meet is set, the local runners are prepared to improve their status statewide.
Both Obion County Central teams and Union City runner Daniel Williamson advanced to the state meet with impressive efforts in the Region 7A-AA meet Tuesday at Troy. The Lady Rebels claimed the regional team championship with 39 points, while Williamson was the boys’ individual region champion. Central’s boys finished third with 91 points.
“We’re excited again,” OC head coach Pam Daniel said. “It’ll be fun to see what we’re capable of doing there.”
Williamson echoed those sentiments for himself, saying, “I’m definitely looking forward to state to see what I can do there.”
The region’s top three teams and top 10 runners now move on to the state meet, slated for Nov. 3 at the Percy Warner State Park Steeplechase Course in Nashville. A full day of running, with the representatives in Division II and Class AAA also competing that day, will conclude with the two A-AA meets. The girls will run at 2:30 p.m., followed by the boys at 3:15.
The Rebel runners and Williamson should certainly be familiar with the Steeplechase Course by now with several trips under their belts. A year ago, the Lady Rebels finished seventh while the Rebel boys were 16th. Williamson was 11th among the boys’ field.
“Last year, I thought we should have been third in the state, but a couple of runners just didn’t have a good day,” Daniel said. “I thought we were good enough to be top three. We want to be in the top five this year, and if we’re higher than that, it’ll be great. But, I’ll be really disappointed if we’re any lower than that.
“I’m losing eight senior boys, and five of the seven who ran today are seniors. So, this is it for them. They didn’t have a good state meet last year, and they really want to get in the top half this year.”
As has been the case all season, the Lady Rebels turned the top part of the standings into their own exclusive club with all seven runners placing in the top 20 of the 65-runner field.
Rachel Jones again led the way with a second-place time of 22:08, while Nichole Whitson was right behind in fourth place with time of 22:46.
OC then had four in a row in the standings — all within 43 seconds of each other — as Brenna Wilkins (24:04) was 10th, Tia Parks (24:39) was 11th, Peyton Daniel (24:40) was 12th and Nicole Storey (24:47) was 13th.
Katelyn Smith rounded out the impressive effort with a 17th-place time of 25:26.
Williamson, meanwhile, made a strong case for another solid showing at the state meet by pulling away over the final two-thirds of the course to take the regional individual title going away by clocking a time of 17:07.
“I felt good today,” he said. “I started out kind of slow and let other people take the lead. Then, at about the one-mile mark, I started turning it on and got to the front of the pack, and I eventually was able to get out in front of everyone.”
That strategy was not the norm for Williamson, who usually prefers to get out in front early.
“Actually, I try to break away at the beginning, but today, I just wanted to save my energy for the latter part of the race and finish hard,” he said. “I was happy with my results.”
Right behind Williamson were a lot of Red, White and Blue of Rebel runners.
The Central boys earned their third-place finish with two runners in the top 15 and then three more between 20th and 30th to edge out Dresden.
“It was a very competitive race,” Daniel said. “Dresden has four very strong runners, but our third through fifth runners really pulled us through today.”
Coleman Dunn paced the Rebs with a 10th-place time of 18:53, and Alex Terrell was close behind in 12th with a time of 19:10.
Austin Riley was 21st at 19:54, Jaime Torres was two seconds back in 22nd at 19:56 and then Dakota Eaves finished up OC’s scoring with a time of 20:14 to finish 26th.
Ian Miller ran 28th in a time of 20:22, and Daniel Garcia placed 35th in a time of 20:50 for OC.
Published in The Messenger 10.24.12