By ALLEN RAU
The Daniel Boone Girls and Boys Cross Country teams recently put on an impressive show at the Conference and Regional races.
Both teams clinched conference titles, the girls team’s first since joining the conference 20 years ago, and the boys third straight and seventh in the past eight years.
While the girls first title was sweet, Coach Len Jeffers pointed out his four senior girls and how they progressed over their careers.
“We’ve got four seniors, and all four have been varsity since their freshman year. And they’ve taken us from a team that was pretty good, but always seeming to be a little short, but in the last two years as juniors and now as seniors, the girls team has qualified both years for the state meet.
“Those four senior girls have really taken the team on their shoulders, not just by what they do on the course, but what they do off the course. The tone they set, the examples they set. They really encourage and bring along and accept the younger runners.”
The Conference meet was held at Steele Creek Park in Bristol on Oct. 18. The Boone girls varsity clinched their first Conference title by scoring 43 points, edging out D-B by four points.
Five members won All-Conference honors; Judy Chellah, Patricia Chellah, Erin Bruce, Gracie Murray and Marley McCoy. McCoy, a senior, finished her career as a four-time All-Conference winner.
The boys varsity team tied for first place with Science Hill at 35 points, and won on the higher placing of their sixth runner.
Seven runners won All-Conference for the boys; Max Austin, Conner Wingfield, Matt Huff, Mason Lewis, Evan Bruce, Graydon Hull and Jameson Cline.
The boys team has had to deal with an injury that could have sunk the entire enterprise. Chance Bowman, who was the number one for the boys, sustained an injury during the season, a stress reaction in his foot, which cost him the rest of the season.
“(Bowman) had been our number one runner, so that was hard to swallow for everybody. There again you’ve got to commend the boys. They were obviously disappointed and upset but they didn’t pout and toss the season aside,” Jeffers said.
Both teams followed that performance by clinching spots for the state championship at the Regional meet held on Oct. 25 at Boone.
Coach Len Jeffers said of the performance, “The team continuity both on and off the course. That’s been our MO this year because we don’t have what they call a “low-stick” or a front-runner like Dobyns-Bennett or Science Hill. But we’ve got a very close running pack. There’s very little separation.”
Both boys and girls teams ran another pack race, with the gap between the top five on both boys and girls within 38 seconds, according to Jeffers.
The Boone Varsity boys took first place with 46 points, while placing five on the All-Region team; Conner Wingfield, Max Austin, Matt Huff, Mason Lewis and Graydon Hull.
The Varsity girls scored a second place finish with 51 points and four members of the All-Region team; Judy Chellah, Patricia Chellah, Erin Bruce and Alanna Cloud.
For the second year in a row, both boys and girls will be heading to the state meet in Nashville, and Coach Jeffers said he believes the entire team made more than good on the goals set at the start of the year.
“Winning the conference was not a goal for the girls. It was icing on the cake. The main goal for the girls, because D-B and Science Hill girls have been so strong, the main goal was just to be in the top three to qualify.
“We felt like the boys were strong and deep enough to win both the conference and region. Of course after losing Chance, we knew it was going to be a real tussle with Science Hill.”
On preparing for the state meet this weekend, Jeffers said the team will treat the race as simply one more, and continue to stick together both on and off the course.