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Todd wins region, advances to state

Unicoi County High School Lady Blue Devil Megan Todd had the broom out for the postseason sweep.
After winning the Three Rivers Conference girls’ individual title the previous week, the sophomore took home top honors at the Region 1-A/AA championships on Thursday, Oct. 29. Todd also punched her ticket to the upcoming TSSAA state cross country meet to be held next week in Nashville at Percy-Warner Park.
Todd’s win marks the fifth consecutive season a Lady Blue Devil has qualified for the state competition. This is the second consecutive trip to the state meet for Todd. She qualified for the state meet during her freshman season with a ninth-place finish in the 2014 region.
“It is amazing, I’m excited,” Todd said with a smile about winning the region.
The sophomore eased through the competition by crossing the finish line with a time of 21:18, nearly 30 seconds ahead of runner-up Laura Bretscher of STEM Academy (21:46). The pace was the biggest worry, Todd said, but confidence from head coach Thad Higgins helped things run smoothly.
“Obviously, after last week’s win by Megan and high placement as a team, we were very excited about the potential we had with Megan and the team going into the regional meet,” Higgins said. “Our training took on more of a, ‘let’s hold where we are right now so we can keep building on for the entire next week’. What can I say? They came out and did exactly what I wanted them to do and I’m very proud of all the runners on both teams.”
Kaitlyn Tilson was not far behind Todd, finishing 20th at 24:19, just mere seconds away from all-regional honors and her own bid to the state meet.
Freshman Halie Hawkins came in 30th. Katie Crain and Madison Nicholson contributed finishes that allowed the team to finish fifth out of the 10 teams in attendance at the girls competition.
“I’ve gotten to see Kaitlyn improve since track season,” Higgins said. “She’s improved steady. Halie had kept fighting through. Katie and Madison did well … They’re all going to keep improving their times and they’re dedicated athletes.”
The conditions for the region meet last week were very different from the wintry conditions of 2014, according to Higgins.
“Last year’s meet was a difficult meet, it was very cold and difficult to get through,” Higgins said. “It was a different experience for Megan, but I think this year is a big building block for her. We’ve had a difficult season this year. Several of our races have been rainy and muddy, so I think she’s prepared for just about anything at state.”
Tilson said that the team is prepared for what lies ahead for next season and she said that both teams have chances to make it to the state competition with hard work and dedication.
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UCHS Blue Devil runners concluded their season with respectable outings in the boys’ A/AA race, which was won by Sullivan East’s Luke Meade with a time of 16:03.
Andrew Bowen was the top finisher for the Blue Devils with a time of 21:31 and was followed closely by freshman John Campbell, who finished at 21:52.
Lance Banks, the lone senior of the team, provided leadership the entire season and helped his team with a time of 23:18.
Lucas Swinehart, Chase Erwin and Aaron Manzanares rounded out the runners for UCHS with times of 24:16, 24:33 and 25:01, respectively.