October 15, 2018
By: Bill Conger
The DeKalb Middle School Cross Country teams are headed to the state competition after Saturday’s Mid-State Regional Middle School Qualifier held at Macon County High School. The girl’s team placed 2nd overall out of 10 teams while the boys came in 4th overall out of 11 teams.
“This is the first time in the four years since the program has been in place that both teams have qualified at the same time,” said Coach Kristen VanVranken. “Qualifying for the state meet is always our goal from the time we start training in April. Its a huge accomplishment, and they deserve it.”
The top five teams at the regional meet advanced to the State Championship meet which will be held at Victor Ashe Park in Knoxville on October 20.
Coach VanVranken says both the girls and boys teams displayed a tremendous team effort.
“They are truly an amazing bunch of student-athletes,” she said. “There are so many factors that take place when a team steps on the line, just like in many sports: the weather, the terrain of the course, the health of the athlete, whether they are sick or dealing with an injury. Many times in racing you don’t get the perfect scenario. You can train and train for weeks, and it all comes down to race day, putting forth your best effort with whatever you may be dealing with. The DeKalb Middle School Cross Country team did just that. They each rose up to the occasion and put forth their best despite any obstacles they had.”
In the boys’ varsity race, three runners made the top 20 out of a field of 102 runners: Aaron Gottlied, 3rd; Cooper Brown, 16th; Caleb Gray, 19th followed by Andrew Tramel, 53rd; Cale Brown, 54th; Jaxon Humphrey, 56th; and Kaleb Spears, 81st. (Spears normally places in the Top 5 but was under the weather for this race.)
In the girls’ varsity race three runners also placed in the top 20 out of a field of 84 runners:
Zoe Keys, 4th; Katherine Knowles, 5th; and Madeline Martin, 17th followed by Mylie Phillips, 26th; Laina Winfree, 30th; Emily Young, 47th, and Summer Morse, 48th.
In the JV race the teams had some “awesome personal records” for the season. Here’s how they placed at the regional meet: Sylvia Evans, 10th; Sadie Morse, 22nd; Alexa Hernandez, 25th;
Mara Oakley, 42nd; Liam Wallace, 18th; Erick Hernandez, 23rd; Jackson Hodges, 33rd; BJ Mosley, 35th; Ethan Spears, 38th.
“Our girls’ team is very unique,” says VanVranken. “We are very young but have proven ourselves throughout the season. To have a varsity team of 6th graders qualify for state is extremely rare and exciting! They are a tough bunch of girls putting out some fast times.”
“Our boys team has depth as well, adds VanVranken. “We will be losing several 8th graders who have had an extremely important role in our success, but our 6th and 7th graders have proven themselves this season. They have been a huge contribution and show much potential.”
The runners have wrapped up their hard training for the season.
“This week will be tapering off some to have rested legs for Knoxville,” VanVranken said. “It will consist of only one speed workout on Tuesday. The rest of the week—Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday— will be easy distance runs.”