Hardin Valley Coach Bryan Brown chats with his boys’ cross country team and brings some smiles to their faces as the Hawks rest after winning the Region 2 Class AAA title for the fourth straight year.

By Steve Williams

Hardin Valley Coach Bryan Brown has let his boys’ cross country team know that another TSSAA state championship won’t just be given to the Hawks.

“Since we ran so well last year, everybody’s looked at us and kind of anointed us,” said Brown after his talented team won their fourth straight Region 2 Class AAA title last week at Victor Ashe Park.

“I said, ‘Guys, we have to go and we have to do it. It’s our job to go and race the best we can and let the chips fall where they are. If we do that, I think we have a very good shot.”

The state meet is Thursday and Friday at Sanders Ferry Park in Hendersonville, with the Class AAA division competing Thursday.

Hardin Valley turned in one of the top performances in TSSAA history in capturing the state title last year. The Hawks also have received national recognition this season and are No. 23 in the country in the latest rankings and still No. 5 in the South Region.

But Brown hasn’t put any emphasis on the rankings.

“No, it’s completely out of our hands,” he said. “We’ve just got to take care of the business that we can take care of. Getting ready for the state is our main goal and we’ll worry about the post-season after the state meet.”

Hardin Valley totaled 25 points in winning the region. Farragut (44) and Oak Ridge (80) also qualified for state.

Three Hawks placed in the Top 4 in the 5K event – champion Kaden Keller (16:05), third place finisher Mitchell McCowan (16:39) and Nathan Hillis, who came in fourth place at 16:40.

Also figuring in the team scoring for HVA were Issac Legault (eighth place) and Asa Mazow (ninth). The Hawks’ Top 5 are all seniors.

“The boys ran great,” said Coach Brown. “They just had to come out and take care of business and they did that. Our goal was to race well and get better and I think we did that. I’m looking forward to the state meet.”

McCown was very happy with his third place finish.

“The course was really wet and moist and the times weren’t super fast, but I thought I had a really good race,” said Mitchell.

It was his best race of the year.

“I was sick at the start of the season and my first race wasn’t too good, but I’m getting back into it and back in shape,” he said.

Farragut junior Trevor Coggin was runner-up with a time of 16:17. Oak Ridge sophomore Manuel Cruz (16:40) rounded out the Top 5.

Farragut Coach Chelsea Osborne said: “We had some boys who were battling a little bit of injury, but they came through and we’re going back to state.”

Bearden freshman Cade Crum came in seventh place with a 16:47 time to earn a state berth and lead all runners who competed individually.