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Ladies take second place at meet

With controversy still surrounding the Raider Run, there was none about the Unicoi County High School cross country teams.
Both programs competed in the annual Raider Run held at Sullivan North on Thursday, Sept. 17, and the Lady Blue Devils were able to take home second-place honors as a team, while sophomore Megan Todd finished second in the girls race.
Official times have yet to be released to the public following a dispute of the boys middle school race, but it was official that both Blue Devil teams were able to net success, according to head coach Thad Higgins.
“It’s killing me,” Higgins said with a laugh in an interview with The Erwin Record. “I know this week both our teams were able to put together season-best performances and it started at the Raider Run. Our girls finished second and Megan was able to finish second, too.”
The Lady Blue Devil squad is comprised of Todd, Halie Hawkins, Katie Crain, Kaitlyn Tilson and Madison Nicholson.
While the times are to be determined, Higgins added that freshman Blue Devil John Campbell was able to step up for the guys and moved up on the pecking order of the team.
“John stepped up with a time of 21:06, unofficially, and finished first for the team,” Higgins said. “Austin (Wilson) was right behind him in the race.”
UCHS Blue Devil runners include Campbell, Wilson, Andrew Bowen, Chase Erwin, Lucas Swinehart, Lance Banks and Aaron Manzanares.
While the team was able to see the likes of conference competition and local powerhouses, including Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett, the competition amongst the team members has allowed them to surpass personal goals at the halfway mark of the season, Higgins said.
“It shows our team is ready to be competitive,” he added. “You can see our team running beside each other, pushing each other and that’s the point they’ve gotten to this season.”
The success on the fields also has the excitement of the cross country program growing at the school, the head coach added.
“Our team has so much potential,” he said. “And our teams are really talking it up. You can hear conversations with classmates talking about their races and they’re talking during practice about goals. I’m excited about the teams. They’re taking full responsibility and buying into the work they’re putting out.”
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The UCHS cross country teams concluded the week with an early morning stint at the Fender’s Farm Cross Country Carnival on Saturday, Sept. 19, in Jonesborough.
Higgins’ Lady Blue Devils were able to take fourth place in the event with a score of 85, just three points shy of third place Volunteer.
Todd led her team with a time of 23:13, finishing fifth in the girls race. Providence Academy’s Amy Ferguson took home top honors with a time of 19:37.
Hawkins was able to garner another top-10 performance for the Lady Blue Devils during the event, finishing seventh with a time of 23:29. Tilson (25:18), Crain (26:52) and Nicholson (31:04) rounded out the finishers for the ladies.
Wilson finished first for the Blue Devils in 34th place in the boys race with a time of 21:16. Bowen finished right behind his teammate with a time of 21:20, while Campbell nipped at his heels with a final time of 21:59.
Lucas Swinehart, Chase Erwin and Aaron Manzanares rounded out the Blue Devil runners with times of 24:43, 24:57 and 26:33, respectively.
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UCHS will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 26, in Bristol to compete in a meet at Steele Creek Park. The race is set to begin at 11:10 a.m.