KNOXVILLE—For the first time since 2008, the Oak Ridge boys and girls cross country teams swept the regional championships, and the two high school teams will compete in the state meet in Nashville next Saturday.
The Wildcats saw some stiff competition at the Region 2-AAA meet at Victor Ashe Park in Knoxville on Thursday, but the Oak Ridge boys’ team had no trouble collectively running past all challengers in the 5,000 meter run. Although Dartanian Oakley of Hardin Valley took home first place, three Oak Ridge runners followed right behind him. Gashaw Duhamel finished second with a time of 16:22:08, Wesley Robinson finished third with a time of 16:25:57, and Tyler Boullie finished fourth with a time 16:32:36. Both Duhamel’s and Robinson’s finishes met the national silver standard, which is finishing a race before the 16:30:00 mark.
The rest of the Oak Ridge boys’ team finished strongly as well. Jacob Etheridge finished seventh with a time of 16:52:39. Shortly behind him were Daniel Beckett running at 16:54:74 to finish 10th and Thomas Colburn running 16:57:14 to finish 11th. Rounding out the seven runners for Oak Ridge was Jose Villegas, who finished 17th with a time of 17:13:91.
Head coach Allen Etheridge was very pleased with his team’s running.
“You have to look at raw numbers,” Etheridge said. “We had three in the top four, four in the top seven, five in the top 10, six in the top 11, and seven in the top 17. That’s a lot of cardinal and gray coming through.”
“We’re just really close together, and we’re at the front of the race. That’s a pretty impressive thing to do,” Etheridge added.
Oak Ridge finished with 22 points as a team, which was 40 points better than the second place team Hardin Valley. The Wildcats ran an average time of 16:37, which was 28 seconds less than Hardin Valley’s average of 17:05.
“The boys are in it to win it,” Etheridge said. “They’re one of three teams that most people say can win…What I can say to that is, ‘Do what you do because you know how to do it…Just get out there and do what you know to do, and everything will shake out the way it outta shake out.’ I think we can win.”
The Lady Wildcats’ meet was much closer than the boys. Aislyn Peacock led the way for the Lady Wildcats, finishing 10th with a time of 20:27:83. Megan Peters finished 11th with a time of 20:31:44, followed by Katharina Gallmeier running 20:38:65 and finishing 12th.
Fifteenth was Maddie Zawisza at 20:54:37. Robyn Wood finished 17th at 21:07:25, and Esther Gallmeier finished 23rd with a time of 21:25:88. Elisabeth Martin wrapped up the seven for Oak Ridge with a 39th place finish, running 23:01:49.
“They’re real difference makers, and it’s a real competitive group of girls,” Coach Etheridge stated. “The last few years, we’ve had great athletes and great kids, but they weren’t quite as competitive. These girls are all that, and they’re competitive. It meant a lot to them to beat other teams, and that’s a difference maker right now for the girls.”
The Lady Wildcats finished with 55 points as a team, edging out Hardin Valley, who had 58. Oak Ridge’s average running time of 20:43 was also better than that of Hardin Valley’s 20:45.
“Stay loose, have fun, and see what you got,” Etheridge said about the state meet. “The girls’ team is in a little bit different of a performance curve. They’re on their way back up. We wanna take whatever we can get and have fun in getting that. We can finish somewhere around third or fifth, and that would be a fantastic result.”
At the state meet, the first 10 finishers in the regional meet, along with the top three teams, will run. Both teams run on November 1 at the Percy Warner Steeplechase Cross Country Course in Nashville. The girls will run first at 1:40 p.m. Central time, followed by the boys at 2:20 p.m. Reward ceremonies will begin once all race results have been counted. Tickets will be $10.
Trenton Duffer is a freelance contributor to Oak Ridge Today.
See boys’ results here.
See girls’ results here.