By Keeli Parkey
After a hiatus, the Unicoi County High School cross country teams returned to competition over the weekend when the Blue Devil and Lady Devil runners competed at Daniel Boone High School on Saturday, Oct. 14.
“The Trailblazer Invitational was our first race back after having two weeks to do some recovery training and focus on a few things that needed to be tweaked,” head coach Thad Higgins told The Erwin Record. “This was an important race for us because it will also be the site of our regional race. Our runners ran very well, and we even had a couple new personal records set.”
John Campbell led the way for the Blue Devils on Saturday.
“John’s time of 19:15 is just 6 seconds away from his personal record, so we’re very excited about how he’ll use this momentum at the conference race,” Higgins said.
Darren Soulier completed the race in 20 minutes; Jordan Bridges turned in a time of 21:07; and Sergio Vidrio finished with a time of 27:02.
“Darren finished close behind John,” Higgins said. “As far as improvement goes our big standouts this week were Jordan and Sergio. They both set new personal records for themselves; Jordan improved by more than 20 seconds, while Sergio improved his time from our last race by over a minute.”
Megan Todd was the top finisher for the Lady Devils, completing the course with a time of 22:28. Cheyenne Wilson kept pace with Todd, finishing in 22:47. Sabrina Todd raced to a time of 25:34.
“The girls also ran a great race in spite of recently having to deal with some injuries,” Higgins said. Megan came across first for the Lady Devils with Cheyenne and Sabrina following close behind.”
Awaiting the Blue Devils and Lady Devils is the conference meet on Thursday, Oct. 19, at Steele Creek Park in Bristol. This will be the first time UCHS runners will compete as members of the Big 11 Conference.
“I look forward to seeing how we stack up against this new competition,” Higgins said. “I’m very excited for the race.”
The runners are prepared for the meet, according to Higgins.
“For the most part I think we’re where we want to be as far as performance and practice goes,” he said. “Of course, we always want to see faster times and improvement across the board; however, effort is often more important to see since it’s difficult to compare races that have varying terrain and levels of difficulty.
“For the last few weeks of practice we will be tapering down our runs and distance to make sure that we’re healthy and well rested for our final races,” Higgins continued. “We’ll also still be focusing a lot on pacing and what’s expected throughout the race from each runner. Our work with pacing yielded great results just this last week as Jordan and Sergio both ran the exact splits that they were supposed to run throughout the race. It has been really rewarding to see these athletes mature together and learn to run a smarter race.”