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Todd finishes in top 10 at meet

A shift in terrain couldn’t stop the Blue Nation.
Freshman Megan Todd led the way with a top-10 finish for the Unicoi County High School cross country team in the annual Three Rivers Conference race held on Thursday, Oct. 16, at Doe River Gorge in Hampton.
The Blue Devil team finished fourth overall at the meet.
It was the first meet held in Hampton and a few runners lost their bearings on the new course. Teams learned of the new location just a couple of days before the race. Runners also dealt with inclement weather, including mud, cool temperatures and a steady drizzle throughout the evening.
“If it was a little bit warmer, it would have been easier,” Todd, who also recorded second-team all conference honors, said. “There we some runners that got lost on the course. I think all our girls ran well and have ran well all season. … I really want to go to state.”
Todd exploded out of the gate and dealt with a minor injury midway through the race, according to head coach Gary Howard, but it wouldn’t keep her from an eighth-place finish, (24.47).
Other Lady Devils stayed finished in the top-30 during the race with first-year runners Kaitlyn Tilson (26:33) and Jillian Taylor (30:56) finishing 15th and 28th, respectively.
“I thought they performed well,” Howard said. “We didn’t get lost on the course and the best girl out here did. That really does say something about our girls, it really does. They give a great effort and they’re all going to get stronger and better.
“For three freshmen to start the season and finish it out says a lot about their determination and I couldn’t be more proud. I had teams that basically won the state and I’ve been proud of them, but I’m proud of these three girls.”
For the Blue Devils, it was a trio of seniors leading the pack. Jeremiah Powers had the top Blue Devil time at 20:23 and finished 15th. Austin Hendrickson was right behind with a 20th-place finish at 21:36. Ocean Hinshaw came in at 22:16.
“Last year we had one course where it was mixture of rain and snow,” Hinshaw said. “So we just attacked it the way it was. I hope we keep this momentum going into the region. “Everyone’s running well right now. Everyone on the team has improved their time from last season to now by at least three to four minutes. From last year, I was 28 minutes for 3.1 miles and now I’m at 22 minutes at 3.1 miles.”
James Powers (25:27), Ian Miller (25:27) and Thomas Moore (26:29) rounded out the meet for the Blue Devils.
“The boys, we went from small numbers to big numbers,” Howard said. “Every boy that came out gave a good effort. They tried to come out and race in every event. They still hung with it. It has been good in a good conference.”
While there are still two weeks of running to go, Howard had nothing but praise for his runners.
“Our kids are happy and that’s what it is about,” the head coach said. “Our guys behave like gentlemen and our little girls act like ladies. That is what our team had above everything else – character.”
The Region 1-A/AA cross country meet will be held on Thursday, Oct. 23, at Daniel Boone High School with the girls running at 1 p.m. The boys are scheduled to begin around 3 p.m. with the Class AAA meet also being held during the afternoon.
The top-10 finishers in each respective race will qualify with the TSSAA state cross country competition.