By Keeli Parkey
Coach Thad Higgins is happy with what he is seeing from his Unicoi County High School cross country runners.
“The real takeaway from last week is the overall improvement that the team has seen,” Higgins told The Erwin Record. “At the beginning of the season, I said that our goal was to see constant growth and each runner has met that goal.”
The Blue Devils and Lady Devils competed in the Blue Ridge Invitational at Providence Academy on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The meet saw Marissa Soulier win third place, Cheyenne Wilson take ninth and Darren Soulier win 10th.
Next, the teams competed at the annual Fender’s Farm Carnival on Saturday, Sept, 14.
“The Blue Devils and Lady Devils had an excellent race at the Fender’s Farm Carnival this weekend,” Higgins said. “Marissa Soulier again stood out as one of the top competitors with an eighth-place finish overall.”
Marissa Soulier finished the race with a time of 21:16. Wilson finished the race with a time of 24:12.
Darren Soulier was the top finisher for the Blue Devils, finishing the race with a time of 19:47. Wyatt Miller finished the race with a time of 20:25.
“Wyatt Miller stood out Saturday as he set a personal record by almost a minute and a half,” Higgins said. “Wyatt fought to hold on to Darren throughout the race, but Darren eventually pulled away to clinch the top team performance on the guys’ side with a time of 19:47. They’re beginning to compete with each other in the races, which will be a benefit to both of their times.”
The newest members of the Blue Devil team also made their presence known in Jonesborough on Saturday. Results included: Canaan Webb with a time of 21:29; Tristan Duncan in 21:30; Ivan Luquin in 21:35; Javier Castellon in 23:17; and Austin Crothers in 31:40.
“Our freshmen guys all fought with each other throughout the race as well for the top junior varsity spot,” Higgins said. “Canaan was able to overcome Tristan and Ivan, but they were all within six seconds of each other.”
The Fender’s Farm Carnival was the first race of the season for new runner Tyler Church, who finished the race in a time of 27:22.
“We would like to welcome Tyler to the team,” Higgins said. “He recently joined the Cross Country team and ran his first race ever this weekend.”
Last week’s results showed how much the UCHS runners have improved since the beginning of the season, according to Higgins.
“I can’t overstate how proud I am of our team at this point in the season,” Higgins said. “We have seen incredible jumps in race times. Everyone has dropped their time from what they ran in our first race at Run for the Hills.”
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The next meet for the UCHS runners is the Bristol Cross on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Steele Creek Park in Bristol.