Four Oak Ridge Wildcats cross country teams finished in the Top 3 in 5k races in Chattanooga on Saturday.
The varsity boys team finished first in the McCallie Invitational, the varsity girls finished third on a tie-breaker, the junior varsity boys team finished second, and the junior varsity girls finished third.
It was the full team debut for the cross country teams, coach Allen Etheridge said. He said the McCallie Invitational selects the most elite teams they can get for a small field of 10-15 teams.
The Wildcats teams travel this weekend to Cary, North Carolina, for the Great American Cross Country Festival, which is one of the most competitive meets in the nation.
Results from Saturday’s races are available here.
The top runner for Oak Ridge in the varsity boys race was senior Wesley Robinson, who finished third with a time of 15:51.90. Junior Thomas Colburn also finished in the Top 10, with a time of 16:17.02.
The top runner in the varsity girls race was freshman Katharina Gallmeier, who finished 13th with a time of 20:02.23.
Top 10 finishers for Oak Ridge in the JV boys race were freshman Jose Villegas, who finished sixth with a time of 17:26.35, and freshman Will Jeter, who finished eighth at 17:28.88. The JV boys team also had a trio of runners who finished 11th, 12th, and 13th.
The top runner for the Oak Ridge JV girls was junior Elisabeth Martin, who finished third with a time of 21:29.29.
Etheridge said the Wildcats waited a long time to race this year.
“Starting on September 27 is really kind of unheard of,” he said. “But new TSSAA rules enable us to compete into November, and I wanted them to still be fresh and ready to race then, too, so we waited. The plus, too, is that by waiting until now to compete the kids really got to focus on school and their grades, which are excellent. First race out, we really don’t have a lot of racing sense yet, really don’t have a feel for how we will respond at various points, so given that I thought we ran an A race on Saturday in every event.”
Here are notes from Etheridge on Saturday’s races:
Katharina Gallmeier led the way. Strong race from her and from her sister, Esther. They’re not afraid to stick their noses in it and race, and boy did they race. And that attitude of just getting after it an trying to run fast is infectious—everybody gets involved in that.
I thought that Aislyn Peacock and Megan Peters were strong again, and I like them running together. I think their times were personal records for both of them. Megan’s breathing issues are finally at bay, and she’s running well. Great leadership on Saturday in keeping the girls loose.
Maddie Zawiswa has had a hip issue, so I was a little concerned about how she’d run, but she was terrific. Gave a ton at the end to pass her buddy Lauren Blade, who now runs at independence. As she heals, she should get faster.
Robyn Wood was there for two miles and then the wheels fell off a little. I’d like to see her with Megan and Aislyn, since she can run with them in workouts. Again, that should come with some racing experience.
I thought that Elisabeth Martin in the JV race ran super also.
We held Abbey Greenhalgh out because of what seems to be a minor quad strain. She’s a big help to us, so obviously we want to heal that and get her back out there as soon as possible.
Team-wise, we got third on a tie-breaker to Harpeth Hall out of Nashville.
South Forsyth, Georgia, won the meet.
Strong team performance for us. I want to keep building on that, keep getting better and better.
This guys’ group has some big goals and needed to come out of the gate gunning in order to get on track to hit those goals, and I think we did that. We have been a dominant program in Tennessee over the past several decades, but the last few years we were kind of outside the top tier of teams in the state, and I hate that. The boys decided they hated that and have worked their butts off to get back to the top. I have a lot of respect for Hardin Valley Academy, Brentwood, and Daniel Boone, who have been at the top for the past few years—but I want to tear them up. I think we have a shot at it.
Wes was terrific—but we knew he would be. Not much strategy there: get on the front, see how you feel, and run to win. He drove the first 3.05 miles and just missed the win. Nice way to start. He’s got a full year of training under him now, has done all the mileage he can do at this point to become one of the best runners in the state, and clearly he’s there. He gets better as he races, and he really is a newcomer to 5K, so I’m expecting a lot more. A good start, though.
Best race ever from Thomas Colburn—he really came on strong. PR (personal record) by about 45 seconds, I think. He’s such a smart racer—knows how his body is going to respond at different points in the race. Top 10 at a meet like this one is really, really impressive.
If I hadn’t been such an idiot I would have had Gashaw Duhamel go out with Thomas for the first two miles—had he done that, I think that Gashaw would have had a much stronger race. He was in fourth at the two-mile mark, and then the wheels just fell off. That’s just a coaching mistake—sending him out to do something he wasn’t prepared to do. We’ll help him get it right next week.
The trio of Tyler Boullie, Jacob Etheridge, and Daniel Beckett ran super also. Those guys gunned so hard down the finish straight to take the last points over trinity. It makes a difference when you’re running for something rather than just running—trying to win rather than just getting through it. When they saw Gashaw struggling they got after it for the other guys—you can’t coach that. That’s the guys doing it for themselves and the team. Jacob said that Beckett really made a lot of that happen by surging past him a couple of times, and Jake went with him. That was a 36-second PR for Jacob—I thought he was tough.
Solid runs from Dakota Curran, who got a 40-second PR, and from the boys’ JV group, the Top 5 of whom are really fighting for the seventh spot on the varsity, which is just right in front of them. In particular, Jose Villegas, Christian Borden, Peyton Gupton, Will Jeter, and Grayson Aldridge are right there on that cusp of making it. Killer race from Will for sure.