History was made Saturday morning at a historic place as Elizabethton and Happy Valley both competed in the first annual Bluegrass Cross Country Festival contested at Sycamore Shoals State Park.
The Cyclone boys and girls teams posted numerous personal bests at the meet near campus on a cool morning that saw the athletes compete through light sprinkles.
Coby Atwell led the Cyclones’ charge with a 37th-place finishoverall as he covered the five-kilometer course in 18 minutes and 20 seconds, which was a personal best for the junior. Alex Valdez finished 30 seconds behind Atwell and sophomore Stewart Clark came in at the 18:59 mark to post a personal best.
Justin Grindstaff and Dustin Heaton rounded out the Cyclones’ team scoring with personal bests as well.
Elizabethton finished 12th in the boys’ team standings, right behind Sullivan Central and infront of Unicoi County.
“Considering we are a month away from district and regional championships, I like where the team is,” Elizabethton head coach Aaron Wood commented.
The Warriors saw freshman Tyerell Hughes run the race in 18:53 and finish a spot outside the top 50. Garrett Stockton led a pack of four Warriors that crossed the finish line within 76 seconds of each other as he clocked in at the 22:12 mark. Ozzy Thompson was next with Shane Parker and Garrett Wood rounding out the quartet.
Happy Valley’s team score put the squad 17th in the boys’ standings.
“Our guys team is steadily improving,” Happy Valley head coach Matt Estep said.
On the girls’ side Elizabethton’s Kayla Lyons had a run of 24:28 — which put the junior 51st on the same five-kilometer course. Haley Keylon covered the layout in 25:21 and good for a 63rd-place finish.
Whitney Guinn and Danielle Loving both obtained personal bests as Guinn needed 25:46 and Loving crossed the line at 28:59.
“Both the boys and girls teams have a good base and we look for more improvements,” Wood added with enthusiasm.
A duo of Happy Valley runners, Katie Hodge and Kaitlynn Kincer, ran to spots No. 55 and No. 56, respectively, with performances of 24:51 and 24:52.
Elizabethton and Happy Valley will both compete at the Bristol Cross next Saturday. For Happy Valley, that will close out the regular season before the District 1 A/AA Championship on Oct. 20 at Sullivan North. Elizabethton will run at Furman on Oct. 8 and at the Trailblazer Invitational a week later before the district event.
The girls’ team championship went to Science Hill with 47 points, 14 better than Farragut. Dobyns Bennett was third followed by Greeneville and Sullivan Central.
Sullivan Central’s Emily Williams narrowly beat Science Hill’s Molly Foster for the individual championship. Williams ran the race in 18:32 with Foster right on her heels two seconds behind.
On the boys’ side, Daniel Boone was the champion with Farragut second with Science Hill, Greeneville and Dobyns Bennett finishing third through fifth.
Chris McElroy, from Dobyns Bennett, was the boys’ individual winner with a run of 15:54.
“It was good to have this level of competition and be able to race nearby,” Estep added about the first-year event hosted by Science Hill and Milligan College.