JEFFERSON— The pack wins championships.
Athens Academy’s cross-country team put that theory to the test on Thursday at Jefferson High School’s home meet.
The Spartans and Lady Spartans both came away with second-place finishes overall. They did so without an individual winning the girls or boys races.
In recent years, not having an Athens Academy way out in front of the field would be a rare occasion. Anna Marian Block and Graham Blanks racked up countless wins and course records over the last six years.
Athens Academy head coach Geoffrey Walton still sound giddy of voice when looking down the results from Thursday’s race.
Sophomore Sarah Harrison, who finished third with a time of 20 minutes and 44.85 seconds, led the Lady Spartans.
The rest of the Lady Spartans were pretty well-grouped together. Kate Kleiber finished 11th (22:11.80). Clara James Williams was 12th (22.28.40).
Davis McLanahan finished 14th (23:02.26) and she was followed by Lucy Waugh (23:13.01).
The boys’ team followed a similar trend.
Jackson Scruggs was the Spartans’ lead runner. Scruggs finished in fifth place (18:23.13). Robbie Dillon came home in eighth place (18:57.72).
Lewis Scruggs finished in ninth place (18:58.41). Will DeLoach was 15th (19:30.21). Cohen Tomlinson came home in 18th (19:47.65).
“Its fun having someone up front, because everybody notices the person at the front, but what’s more fun is when you go to the state meet and you end up doing well and everyone says where did that team come from,” Walton said. “That’s where it becomes a team sport and cross-country is a lot of fun. That’s what we’re going to have this year with both the boys and the girls. We’re not going to have somebody that’s up vying for a state championship, but we’re going to have two teams that are competing and have a chance to make it onto the podium.”
Walton feels many of the team’s runners bucked some of their own nerves on Thursday. Leading up to the event, Walton had multiple discussions with runners worried about being ready for a race. Walton described Thursday’s event a ‘glorified practice’ because the ultimate goal is the state championship meet at the end of the season.
“They’re going to have races where they PR and then they’ll have some races where it’s just not their day,” Walton said. “It will help them realize that it’s a cycle. Really, the only race that matters is state meet in November.”