By Steve Williams

Hardin Valley Academy’s boys cross country team had already made a statement this season that it was the best team in Knoxville Interscholastic League history when it posted a perfect team score of 15 in the KIL meet.

The impressive numbers the Hawks put up Thursday at the state meet in Hendersonville make a strong case that they may also be one of the best ever to run in the TSSAA.

Hardin Valley blew away the Division I Large field with its 33-point total. Franklin came in a distant second over 101 points away at 134.

With three of the top five finishers running as individuals and not figuring in the team totals, Hardin Valley had the “2, 3, 4, 7 and 17” point-getters to cross the finish line. That adds up to 33.

Counting all runners, HVA junior Kaden Keller came in fourth place with a time 15:52.61 over the 5,000-meter course at Sanders Ferry Park.

Then followed senior Andrew Schultz in sixth (16:12.83) and junior Nathan Hillis in seventh (16:13.85).

After Farragut sophomore Trevor Coggin’s ninth place showing (16:14.80), the Hawks had junior Mitchell McCown to come in 10th (16:15.19) and senior Alex Brittain 23rd (16:43.80) just behind Farragut sophomore Riley Hanson (16:42.21).

“Our kids ran a great race,” said Coach Bryan Brown. “They were focused on having a tight pack and getting out front and controlling the race. We led at the mile and two-mile, and held on for the victory.

“The team this year worked extremely hard. We have 14 boys that could have been on the line today. Our depth is very strong.”

The total time of its top five runners was 1:21:18.28 and they averaged a time of 16:15.66 on the peninsula that is bordered by Old Hickory Lake.

Rounding out the top five teams were Houston (162 points), Farragut (164) and Siegel (193).

Lebanon senior Aiden Britt was the individual winner in 15:29.69.

The Top 15 finishers receive All-State recognition.

Other boys’ highlights:

Webb School captured the Division II-A title, totaling 45 points to Harding Academy’s 60.

Columbia Academy’s Connor Henson won the race in 16:08.33. Senior Austin Rhea (16:52.23) came in third to lead Webb.

First Baptist Academy’s Colten Lee placed fourth, Webb’s Kaden Narayani fifth and GCA’s Reilly Mehegan seventh.

Knoxville Catholic senior Riley Smith came in third place in Division II-AA with a time of 16:30.55. Chattanooga Christian’s Jack Cottrell was the winner in 16:18.09. McCallie took top team honors.

Signal Mountain was team champion in Division I Small. Will Douglas posted a winning time of 16:01.78.

Junior Dwayne Morris and senior Shawn Prater led Austin-East to 11th place in the 22-team field.