By Steve Williams

On paper, Farragut’s girls cross country team looks like it has a good chance of bringing home the gold from this year’s TSSAA state meet.

But the finish line for reaching that goal is still a long way off.

First, the Lady Admirals must qualify for the state in Tuesday’s Region 2 Championships at the Victor Ashe Park 5K course. That’s almost certain to happen as Coach Chelsea Osborne’s team is the defending champion.

Farragut also has its top five runners back from last year’s state runner-up team plus senior Kendall Johnson, who was third best among its top seven runners in the KIL meet earlier this month.

Brentwood, which won the state title in 2020, graduated three of its top five runners. Independence High, which placed third at last year’s state, is expected to return four of its top five.

The unknown also could figure into the state team standings at the Sanders Ferry Park course in Hendersonville next week as freshmen and newcomers could make an impact.

For now though, Coach Osborne likes her team’s chances in the region and state this year.

“Going into region our girls’ team is in a good spot,” said Osborne last week. “We’ve had a solid year of racing and the girls are motivated to defend their region title. As for state, we will officially qualify for it on Tuesday at the region meet, but if the girls go into state with the competitive edge I’ve seen them have and confidence, I think we have a shot at coming out with another podium spot.”

Osborne added that her team has had a good year of training.

“We are an older team which gives us a lot of experience and confidence in each other. Out of the top seven, five are seniors, so that gives us a good group of leaders for the younger girls on the team.”

Kendall Johnson was Farragut’s fourth best runner in last year’s region, but she didn’t run at the state. A twin sister of the Lady Admirals’ Camryn Johnson, Kendall could improve her team’s chances at the state this year.

“Kendall has been a pivotal part of the team this year,” said Osborne. “She loves to compete and has come through big in several meets.”

Senior Grace Lathrop, who moved to Farragut in the middle of the 2020 season, became the team’s No. 1 runner and has held that position this season.

Lathrop was a late-bloomer last year, improving from fourth place on Farragut’s JV team in the KIL meet to leading the Lady Admirals with a 19th place showing at the state meet with a time of 19:20.65.

“Grace is one of those athletes that works hard all the time and has been a good addition to our team,” said Coach Osborne.

Camryn Johnson came in 23rd at the state last year and Melanie Hayman, then a freshman, 31st. Lexi Foley finished 32nd and Kennedy Reynolds 41st.

“We went into this season with our eye on a state title,” said Osborne. “We knew Brentwood is always a threat and one of those teams that just seems to always have new athletes, which would make a run for the state title difficult. We are focused on our goal and the girls have been putting in the work this year to make a run for it.”

The top seven runners on Farragut’s KIL champion team earlier this month were Lathrop, Camryn and Kendall Johnson, Foley, Reynolds, Hayman and senior Emma Wittschen.

Region 2 action begins with the Class AAA girls’ race at 9 and the Class AAA boys’ race at 9:40. The Division I Class A-AA and Division II Small Schools girls and boys races will follow along with the Division II-A East meet.