The Oak Ridge High School boys’ and girls’ cross country teams, both coming off fantastic first-place finishes at regionals in late October, competed in the state championship 5k run in Nashville on Saturday. The boys’ team finished third, and the girls finished ninth.
The girls ran better than their ninth-place finish suggests. Freshman Katharina Gallmeier led the way in running for the Lady Wildcats with a 46th place finish at 20:30:95, followed shortly by senior Aislyn Peacock. Peacock ran a 20:37:41 and finished 49th.
Following closely behind these two was junior Megan Peters, who finished 57th with a time of 20:49:08. Freshman Robyn Wood finished 70th with a 21:05:81, and sophomore Maddie Zawisza finished 72nd with a 21:10:75. Freshman Esther Gallmeier finished 98th with a 21:42:37, and junior Mallika Vohra rounded out the team with a 22:04:80 finish at 109th.
“We got almost everything we were looking for,” head coach Allen Etheridge said. “I had them come out a little bit slower for the first mile so they wouldn’t get sucked down too fast, and I think in the end that hurt them a little bit…If you haven’t gotten the experience of running in that race, you have to learn from the ground up. They did great. I don’t have any complaints about the finish.”
The Lady Wildcats finished with 251 points, which was 11 points away from seventh-place Independence. Morristown West dominated the entire championship, as they finished with 51 points compared to second-place Houston’s 124. Three of Morristown’s runners finished in the top 10, and their slowest runner finished 41st.
The boys’ team was more successful than the girls’ team. However, they couldn’t get past Daniel Boone and Brentwood. Daniel Boone had three of their runners finish in the top four. Oak Ridge finished third thanks to a 97-point performance.
Junior Gashaw Duhamel and senior Wesley Robinson finished 11th and 12th in the state championship. Duhamel ran 16:19:24, and Robinson ran 16:19:34. Both runners were about three seconds from a sixth-place finish. Duhamel actually ran 4,700 meters of the race with only one shoe.
“He had his shoe stepped on, and lost his shoe early in the race,” Etheridge said. “He was tough, and so was Wes (Robinson).”
Etheridge also praised Robinson for what he’s contributed to the team.
“Wesley is so competitive. That competitiveness is a large part of how the guys race,” Ethridge added.
Both Robinson and Duhamel earned All-State honors. It’s the first time since 2009 that a boy has earned All-State honors for Oak Ridge.
Junior Tyler Boullie finished 21st at 16:43:42. Junior Thomas Colburn ran a 16:53:59 and finished 31st. Sophomore Jacob Etheridge finished 37th with a 17:04:37, and junior Daniel Beckett finished out the Oak Ridge seven with a 40th place finish at 17:06:05.
“We wanted to win,” Etheridge said. “We’re still trying to learn how to be a championship team. We lost that knowledge over the last few years, and it takes time to earn it back when you’re in a state as good as this (cross country) as Tennessee is.”
With the season coming to a close, Coach Etheridge already has a strong mindset for next year.
“I wanna win,” Etheridge said. “The mindset is we’re coming back to win. We’re coming back to do better than we did this year, and that means coming back with two gold trophies. I start every single year wanting a gold trophy. I know exactly how they feel when they stand on that podium, and there’s nothing like it. I think next year, we can do it.”
Trenton Duffer is a freelance contributor to Oak Ridge Today.
See the results of the 2014 TSSAA Class AAA State Cross Country Championships here:
The race was at Percy Warner Park Steeplechase Course in Nashville.
Here are more photos from Saturday’s championship meet by freelance photographer Kindell Moore: