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Todd advances to state

A lack of numbers hasn’t led to a lack of success for the Unicoi County High School Lady Devil cross country team this season.
Freshman Megan Todd led the charge with a ninth-place finish and all-region honors during the Region 1-A/AA championship race held at Daniel Boone High School on Thursday, Oct. 23.
The top-10 finish qualified Todd for the TSSAA state cross country meet, set for Percy Warner Park in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 1, at 1 p.m. UCHS has sent a Lady Devil runner to the state meet the past three seasons, with former standout Whitley True clinching bids her senior and junior years.
“I just knew I had to hold my place and speed it up a little bit,” Todd, who set a personal best running 23:02, said. “My grandpa lives in Nashville, today was my brother’s birthday and I just wanted to prove people wrong.”
It was a race of progression for Todd, a top-10 finisher in the previous week’s Three Rivers Conference meet held at Doe River Gorge. The freshman started the first mile in 21st and shifted to 11th two miles in before making the leap into state qualification range.
“I’m lost for words and that’s unusual for me,” UCHS head Gary Howard said with a laugh. “She’s worked hard the whole season. She’s been a big surprise this season but from the first race to now, Megan’s taken off three minutes from her time and that’s pretty good. She ran a smart, well-thought out race today and it just came to her.
“You could see runners get tired toward the end and start to give out with that hill in the back and I have to credit all our runners. They weren’t too scared of that with the hills they run in practice. I thought Megan really zoned in and really performed well.”
Kaitlyn Tilson and Jillian Taylor came in with their own respectable times, finishing at 26:30 and 33:43, respectively.
“Those three freshmen maybe missed three practices at most,” Howard said. “They’ll be successful if they stick together and stay with it. If they can get a couple of girls to join up next year, you’re looking at a team that could compete over the next two to three years with the best of them.”
The Blue Devil runners did not net any state berths, but Jeremiah Powers ran a 20-flat to pace his team.
“Jeremiah and Austin (Hendrickson) are four-year men,” Howard said. “It never was, ‘where did I finish’ but ‘where did I improve.’ It’ll be a sweet, sad moment for senior night.
“Ocean (Hinshaw) has been a contributor during his time here, then you’ve got Thomas (Moore), Ian (Miller) and James (Powers). They’re a great group of guys to coach and work with.”
Hendrickson ran a 20:38 in the meet while Hinshaw, James Powers, Miller and Moore finished with times of 22:25, 23:22, 23:50 and 25:53, respectively.
Howard, in his final year with the program, had nothing but praise for his team’s final meet all together.
“They’re a quality group of kids,” he said. “I could take them anywhere and they always represent themselves with class and respect for others … it’s a good note to go out on.”
By Curtis Carden
Sports Writer
[email protected]
A lack of numbers hasn’t led to a lack of success for the Unicoi County High School Lady Devil cross country team this season.
Freshman Megan Todd led the charge with a ninth-place finish and all-region honors during the Region 1-A/AA championship race held at Daniel Boone High School on Thursday, Oct. 23.
The top-10 finish qualified Todd for the TSSAA state cross country meet, set for Percy Warner Park in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 1, at 1 p.m. UCHS has sent a Lady Devil runner to the state meet the past three seasons, with former standout Whitley True clinching bids her senior and junior years.
“I just knew I had to hold my place and speed it up a little bit,” Todd, who set a personal best running 23:02, said. “My grandpa lives in Nashville, today was my brother’s birthday and I just wanted to prove people wrong.”
It was a race of progression for Todd, a top-10 finisher in the previous week’s Three Rivers Conference meet held at Doe River Gorge. The freshman started the first mile in 21st and shifted to 11th two miles in before making the leap into state qualification range.
“I’m lost for words and that’s unusual for me,” UCHS head Gary Howard said with a laugh. “She’s worked hard the whole season. She’s been a big surprise this season but from the first race to now, Megan’s taken off three minutes from her time and that’s pretty good. She ran a smart, well-thought out race today and it just came to her.
“You could see runners get tired toward the end and start to give out with that hill in the back and I have to credit all our runners. They weren’t too scared of that with the hills they run in practice. I thought Megan really zoned in and really performed well.”
Kaitlyn Tilson and Jillian Taylor came in with their own respectable times, finishing at 26:30 and 33:43, respectively.
“Those three freshmen maybe missed three practices at most,” Howard said. “They’ll be successful if they stick together and stay with it. If they can get a couple of girls to join up next year, you’re looking at a team that could compete over the next two to three years with the best of them.”
The Blue Devil runners did not net any state berths, but Jeremiah Powers ran a 20-flat to pace his team.
“Jeremiah and Austin (Hendrickson) are four-year men,” Howard said. “It never was, ‘where did I finish’ but ‘where did I improve.’ It’ll be a sweet, sad moment for senior night.
“Ocean (Hinshaw) has been a contributor during his time here, then you’ve got Thomas (Moore), Ian (Miller) and James (Powers). They’re a great group of guys to coach and work with.”
Hendrickson ran a 20:38 in the meet while Hinshaw, James Powers, Miller and Moore finished with times of 22:25, 23:22, 23:50 and 25:53, respectively.
Howard, in his final year with the program, had nothing but praise for his team’s final meet all together.
“They’re a quality group of kids,” he said. “I could take them anywhere and they always represent themselves with class and respect for others … it’s a good note to go out on.”