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Middle school cross country runners prepared for 2017 season

The 2017 Unicoi County Middle School Jr. Blue Devil cross country team includes, pictured from left, back row, head coach Lydia Hilliard, Mason Hensley, Carter Reece, Branson Peterson, Aidan O’Hare, Brycen Callahan, Willard Byrd, Christopher Chavez and assistant coach Jonathan Kenney; front row, Alex White, John Bush, Johnny Tipton, Canaan Webb, Kade Lemmon, Eli Riddell, Eli Bratton, Tristan Duncan and Damian Crawford; not pictured, Eli McNalley. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)
The 2017 Unicoi County Middle School Jr. Lady Devil cross country team includes, pictured from left, back row, head coach Lydia Hilliard, Candace Tolley, Jimena Avila, Ella Criss, Marissa Soulier and assistant coach Jonathan Kenney; front row, Paola Ramirez, Isabella Howard, Cora Hartley, Betsabe Chavez, Miranda Deyton and Katlyn Nelson. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

Head coach Lydia Hilliard has high hopes for the 2017 Unicoi County Middle School cross country season.

“I am looking forward to a good cross country season,” Hilliard said. “Our numbers are high for both teams.”

Several runners return for both the Jr. Blue Devils and Jr. Lady Devils. According to Hilliard, they are Will Byrd, Brycen Callahan, Aidan O’Hare, Eli Riddell, Branson Peterson, Cora Hartley, Jimena Avila, Marissa Soulier, Candace Tolley, Paola Ramirez, and Issy Howard.

“We also have several new runners this season,” Hilliard said. “Both teams have been working hard and giving good effort. Times are already decreasing with all runners. (Assistant) coach Jonathan Kenney and I are pleased with their teamwork.”

Expected to pace the Jr. Blue Devils is seventh grader Tristan Duncan.

“He is already the lead runner for the boys team,” Hilliard said. I anticipate he will also do very well this season.”

Soulier returns for her eighth grade season to lead the Jr. Lady Devils.

She has worked hard over the summer and her time is continually decreasing,” Hilliard said. “Her goal again this year is to make it to state. She has the ability and determination and will do well this season.”

The remaining members of the Jr. Blue Devil squad are: Eli Bratton, John Bush, Christopher Chavez, Damian Crawford, Mason Hensley, Kade Lemmon, Eli McNalley, Carter Reece, Johnny Tipton, Canaan Webb and Alex White.

The remaining members of the Jr. Lady Devil squad are: Betsabe Chavez, Ella Criss, Miranda Deyton and Katlyn Nelson.

The UCMS runners are scheduled to compete in their first meet of the season on Thursday, Aug. 31, in Greeneville.