Maddy Moody, a junior at Anderson County High School, finished third in the state in cross country in the championship race in Nashville this month.
Moody improved 13 spots from last year, when she finished 16th as a sophomore in the girls’ Class AAA state cross country championship meet at Percy Warner Park in Nashville.
Moody finished the 5,000-meter, or 5k, race in 18:51.53 this year in the Division I Large Schools category. That compared to 19:30.59 last year in what was previously the Division I Class AAA category.
“It’s a huge improvement,” said Derek Wallace, who coaches cross country and boys’ basketball at Anderson County. “You don’t often see those types of improvements down there.”
Moody normally races with a pacing watch, but she handed it to her mother this year, Wallace said.
“I’m not running for time today,” he recalled Moody saying. “I’m just running my race.”
Her time improvement was impressive, Wallace said, but he was even more impressed that she didn’t care about her time.
Moody and the coaching staff knew her times were close to second place, and there were a few girls that she wanted to stay with during the race.
“We thought if she paced with the right girls, she would have a shot at top 10, maybe top three,” Wallace said.
Moody, who did not run as a freshman, has improved about a minute overall, Wallace said. She ran a 19:20 at the Jesse Owens race last year, and finished at 18:30 at Cherokee this year.
Percy Warner is a tough, hilly course, with a lot of “ups and downs,” Wallace said.
Among the girls that Moody competed against at the state meet on November 4 was senior Shila Kapaya of Knoxville Catholic, who finished first in the Region 2 Championships at Victor Ashe Park in Knoxville on Thursday, October 26. In that race, Kapaya was about nine seconds ahead of Moody (19:14.54 to 19:23.97)
But at the state meet, Moody finished three spots ahead of Kapaya, who was sixth at 19:00.80. Moody was about nine seconds ahead of Kapaya.
“It was very impressive,” Wallace said of Moody’s race. “When the gun sounds, she’s a machine.”
Moody also finished two spots ahead of senior Anna Delahunt of Farragut. Delahunt was third in the regional meet in Knoxville in October and fifth at state, where she crossed the finish line in 18:59.00.
Delahunt also ran in the state meet last year, when she finished 25th at 19:51.92.
Besides Kapaya and Delahunt, Moody was also trying to pace this year with senior Breanna Roy of David Crockett, who finished seventh at state in 19:11.24.
Sasha Neglia, a sophomore at Dobyns-Bennett in Kingsport in upper East Tennessee, finished first again this year, with a time of 18:15.71.
Finishing second was freshman Landri Wilcox of Cookeville at 18:34.93.
Last year’s second-place runner, Annika Sleenhof of Ravenwood, who is now a senior, finished eighth this year.
The top runner for Oak Ridge, senior Genevieve Schwartz, finished 26th with a time of 20:04.74. That was an improvement from last year, when Schwartz, the only Lady Wildcat to qualify for state in 2016, was 47th at 20:26.03.
Wallace said Moody wants to be an engineer, and she played soccer this season during cross country, training after soccer practice and around soccer matches.
“Who does that?” he asked rhetorically.
In most of the races she’s run, Moody has crossed the finish line alone, running well ahead of the competition, so coaches tried to expose her to other competition, including at the Bristol Cross, which included Catholic, Hardin Valley Academy, Dobyns-Bennett, and David Crockett.
Wallace said Anderson County junior Mollie Longmire, who competed in the state meet last year, when she finished 38th, missed competing this year by only two spots.
Besides cross country and soccer, Moody also competes in track, and Wallace said she finished eighth in the mile in track in Class AAA this past spring. Her mother Alondra runs ultra marathons, and her father Bryan ran in college, Wallace said. Her brother Colin, a freshman, also plays soccer and is on the cross country team.
Moody broke the two-mile (3,200-meter) record for Anderson County High School, Wallace said. Earlier this month, he said she may continue running through a Foot Locker race, and she may see if she can qualify for nationals.
Here are the top 10 times at the girls’ 5k state cross country championship race at Percy Warner Park in Nashville on November 4:
- Sophomore Sasha Neglia of Dobyns-Bennett—1st, 18:15.71
- Freshman Landri Wilcox of Cookeville—2nd, 18:34.93
- Junior Maddy Moody of Anderson County—3rd, 18:51.53
- Senior Camliee Smith of Central Magnet—4th, 18:58.22
- Senior Anna Delahunt of Farragut—5th, 18:59.00
- Senior Shila Kapaya of Knoxville Catholic—6th, 19:00.80.
- Senior Breanna Roy of David Crockett—7th, 19:11.24
- Senior Annika Sleenhof of Ravenwood—8th, 19:18.84
- Freshman Lydia Tankersley of Houston—9th, 19:25.41
- Senior Gigi Maddox of Fred J. Page—10th, 19:27.46
Anderson County did not compete as a team in the state meet. Only the top three teams in the Region 2 Championships—Hardin Valley Academy, Farragut, and Oak Ridge—advanced to state. Anderson County finished seventh in the regional meet.
But runners like Moody who finish in the top 10 at the regional meet advance to state, even if their team doesn’t.
Ravenwood finished first in team scores (102) in this year’s state meet. Houston (132) was second, and Dobyns-Bennett (161) was third. Hardin Valley (188) finished sixth, Farragut (196) was seventh, and Oak Ridge (342) was 13th. In cross country, a lower score is better.
After Schwartz, the next fastest runner for Oak Ridge was sophomore Jessie Strader. Competing in her first state meet, Strader was 66th, with a time of 21:12.11. (We will have more information on the Oak Ridge runners later.)
See the complete results of the 2017 TSSAA State Cross Country Championship Girls 5k Run Division I Large Schools here.
See the results from the 2017 Large Schools Girls Race in the Region 2 Championships here.
See a story on last year’s state girls’ race here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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