By Keeli Parkey

The Unicoi County High School cross country runners used the experience they gained from their first meet of the season to improve their results at their second meet.

Running in Greeneville on Thursday, Aug. 31, the Blue Devils and Lady Devils had five runners finish in the top-20, including two – junior John Campbell and sophomore Cheyenne Wilson – in the top-10.

“At the first race they were just getting their feet under them,” head coach Thad Higgins told The Erwin Record. “In this one they really dropped their times a lot. When you come out for that first race, you don’t really know what to expect. The runners get more comfortable after that first race and settle into the season as it goes along.”

Campbell finished in seventh place in the 5K race with a time of 19:09 – which marked a more than 30-second improvement from the team’s first meet at South Holston Dam on Aug. 26.

“I talked to John before the race and told him that now was the time to step up,” Higgins said. “We need to see what he can do early in the season. He definitely did that. He ran his 5K personal best. That is very big for him.”

Sophomore Darren Soulier finished 17th place with a time of 19:59.

“He also dropped his time by more than 30 seconds,” Higgins said. “Darren is trying to run in practice and in the races with John. He has done that. You can tell by his times.”

Wilson led the way for the Lady Devils, finishing in 10th place with a time of 23:34.

“I think that is the first time she has done that,” Higgins said. “I am really proud of her for that. She dropped her time (from the previous meet) by over a minute. Cheyenne really stepped up in this race.”

Senior Megan Todd finished just behind Wilson with a time of 23:58 in 11th place.

Freshman Sabrina Todd finished in 17th place with a time of 24:53.

The UCHS runners’ next meet will be the Becky Selfe Invitational at Sugar Hollow Park in Abingdon at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9.

“We are slowly going to start changing the way we practice to work on speed up and down hills,” Higgins said. “We may start doing faster drills and fewer long runs. They already have the miles under their belts now. They ran all summer and did long runs. I think, mentally, they will transfer to that really well and see the results of that at the next race.”