By Steve Williams
Two sophomores – one that has already made a mark in the sport and one that is up and coming – led the way in the 2015 KIL cross country championship meet.
Christian Academy of Knoxville’s Rebecca Story repeated as the girls’ champion as expected, while Webb School’s Carter Coughlin was a first-time winner in the boys’ race last Thursday afternoon at Sequoyah Park.
Story, the TSSAA Class A-AA state runner-up last year, ran the 5K (3.1 mile) Cherokee Boulevard course in 17 minutes, 45.15 seconds, finishing almost 26 seconds ahead of West High School’s Megan Murray (18:11.07).
Coughlin was clocked in 15:45.48, finishing some seven seconds ahead of Knoxville Catholic’s Johnathan Chavez.
“It’s definitely the biggest win I’ve had,” said Coughlin. “There were a few times Johnathan came up next to me, but for the most part I led.”
Hardin Valley Academy, coached by Bryan Brown, didn’t have a top five individual finisher in either race but swept the team titles with depth.
The Hawks, with their five runners finishing between sixth and 20th place, totaled 62 points. Catholic (69 point) was second. Webb (87), Farragut (99) and West (117) rounded out the top five.
The HVA girls had five finishers between sixth and 25th place to total 63 points. Webb (80 points) took second, followed by CAK (84), Farragut (88) and West (133).
Competing in the annual meet were high school teams and athletes from throughout Knox County.
There were 13 complete boys teams (having at least five finishers) and 12 complete girls teams in the field and eight more incomplete teams.
Story’s plan was “to go out fast, get the lead and keep that pace going the entire time. I planned to work some of the inclines on the course.”
The warm weather affected Story a little.
“I felt pretty good,” she said. “It was just really hot and I don’t think I was used to that. We haven’t run an afternoon race all season.”
After the boys’ race, Coughlin said, “The sun was in our eyes a little bit on the way back, but it was okay.”
Coughlin was ninth in the KIL meet last season but ran “about 40 seconds faster” this year. He’s been working at it since June.
“A lot of seniors from last season graduated,” said Coughlin. “I was really motivated going into the race. I looked at the stats and saw how close it was going to be. There was going to be a big pack up there and I was ready.
“I knew they were going to take it out fast, so I kind of held back a little bit in the beginning. With the start of the second loop, I just went. That was my strategy.”
Coughlin repeats a Bible verse before each race.
“Philippines 4:13,” he said. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
“That motivates me at the beginning of races. I was ready to come in here and win.”
Tanner Witsell placed sixth and Brennan Humphreys eighth to lead the Hardin Valley boys’ team victory. Noah Trostle (12th place), Kenton Bachmann (16th) and Aiden Oakley (20th) contributed to the championship.
Zoe Antonas (6th place), Madison Grimm (8th) and Emily Readett (9th) led the Hardin Valley girls. Jenna Wall (15th) and Trista Dickie (25th) completed the title run.
Individually, Webb’s Niki Narayani took third in the girls’ race, CAK’s Taylor Cosey fourth and Halls’ Kaitlyn Lay fifth.
West’s Adam Johnston and Bruce Boles placed third and fourth, respectively, in the boys’ race, and Carter’s Bray Fulton fifth.