Coughlin and Renfree also qualify for nationals

By Steve Williams

Rebecca Story has had another prestigious accomplishment in her high school cross country career.

The Christian Academy of Knoxville senior won the Foot Locker South Region girls’ championship Nov. 25 in Charlotte.

Story, a Stanford University signee, covered the 5,000-meter McAlpine Greenway course in 17 minutes, 24.5 seconds, about four seconds ahead of sophomore Victoria Starcher of Ripley, W. Va., and a pack of runners.

The victory also qualified Story for Foot Locker’s national championship race Saturday in San Diego. She finished third in the nationals last year, earning a berth on the USA Junior Team that competed in the Great Edinburgh Cross Country Challenge in Scotland last January.

In addition to Story, two other local runners – Carter Coughlin of Webb School and Jake Renfree of Knoxville Catholic – placed fifth and eighth, respectively, in the boys’ South Regional to earn spots in the nationals, which will be held at Morley Field and Balboa Park.

Coughlin, a senior who is headed to Wake Forest University, posted a time of 15:06.6. Renfree, a junior, was clocked in 15:10.8.

John Tatter, a senior from RJ Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, N.C., took first place with a time of 14:55.9.

The Top 10 boys’ and girls’ finishers in the South, Northeast, Midwest and West regions qualify for the FLCCC.

Story finished sixth in the 2016 South Region meet, but lowered her time 14 seconds in this year’s race, which was held under clear skies and 45 degrees.

The second through 10th place runners finished within 2.3 seconds of each other. One of those in that pack was Heather Holt of Fairfax, Va. She had run a 17:23.4 to place second in last year’s regional but came in seventh this season.

Story can expect tough competition in the nationals, where she was timed in 17:35.4 last year. Claudia Lane of Malibu, Calif., won the 2016 title as a sophomore with a time of 17:04.8.

In this year’s Midwest Region, the champion ran a 17:13. The top time in the Northeast Region was 17:47. The West Region was scheduled this past Saturday.