Photo by Steve Williams
Hardin Valley Academy boys and girls cross country runners made it a clean sweep in team and individual competition at the KIL meet last week.

Hardin Valley sweeps KIL cross country titles

By Steve Williams

After breezing to victory in the annual Knoxville Interscholastic League cross country meet and taking a few seconds to catch his breath, Aaron Templeton didn’t leave for the tent area. Instead, he stayed to shout encouragement to his Hardin Valley Academy teammates as they approached the finish line.

Templeton, the defending TSSAA Class AAA state champion, explained after the meet that was an example of his desire to be a team leader for the Hawks in his senior season.

“My freshman year, Hardin Valley won state, and I was on that team,” said Templeton, “That was just a great feeling, but ever since then our team has been kind of stagnant, so this year I’ve tried to really become a leader for the team and I’m trying to motivate the guys.”

So far, so good.

Hardin Valley’s boys repeated as KIL champions last Thursday on the 5K course at Sequoyah Park as Templeton led the way with a winning time 15 minutes, 25.79 seconds. Lachlan Dickie took second place, almost 35 seconds back. Other top runners for the Hawks were junior Dartanian Oakley (fourth place), Tanner Witsell (12th) and Jose Parrilla (19th).

Hardin Valley totaled 38 points (lowest score wins). Webb School was runner-up with 70 points, followed by Farragut (101), Bearden (116) and West (127).

Bearden senior Chase Hilton broke up the Hardin Valley pack with a third place showing. Joe Bindner, Catholic junior, was fifth. Also in the top 10 were Jackson Schmid of West (sixth place), Louis Morris of Farragut (seventh), and Webb’s Elliot Baerman (eighth) and Reece Rose (ninth). L&N Stem Academy’s Dagon Uselton just nipped Adam Johnston for 10th place.

When it comes to racing cross country, Emma Mashburn doesn’t care about being the pacesetter. Sometimes, though, she finds herself in that position.

“It’s kind of a hard place to be,” said the Hardin Valley Academy senior after leading from start to finish in winning the KIL championship for the third year in a row.

“This year has been kind of hard because I don’t have my racing buddy, Hannah (Feiten), out there with me. I really don’t know what pace to push and how to push. I like it when there’s people up there I can feed off, but I feel like I still got strong.”

Mashburn was clocked in 18 minutes, 37.70 seconds. Rebecca Story, an eighth grader at Christian Academy of Knoxville, came in second at 18:43.48.

HVA’s girls, with 48 points, won their fourth straight championship. The Lady Hawks’ Zoe Antonas placed seventh, Karlie Yinger eighth, Alexandra Christopoulos (15th) and Kayle Peacock (17th).

CAK’s girls were runnersup with 71 points. Farragut (80), Webb School (89) and Catholic (109) rounded out the top five.

Other top finishers in the individual competition behind Mashburn and Story were West sophomore Megan Murray (third place), Webb junior Peighton Meske (fourth), Catholic senior Annie Batcheller (fifth), CAK’s Sarah Zimmer (sixth), Farragut’s Anna Woodford (ninth) and Webb’s Madeline Christian (10th).

Bryan Brown, Hardin Valley coach, said the sweep of team and individual titles was a good way to start the “championship season” portion of the schedule.

“Obviously, our biggest goal is the state meet every year,” he said. “But this is our county championship and we treat it as such. It’s a points race. We don’t really worry about time. We just care about beating other teams and racing for points. We need to run well here to move our primary goal forward and reach the state.”

One hundred and ninety boys and 131 girls competed in the annual event.