The 2019 Unicoi County Middle School cross country team includes, pictured from left, back row, coach Lydia Hilliard, coach Kelly Whaley, Johnny Tipton, Luke Capps, Kade Lemmon, Ethan Falkenstein, Andrew Hill, Bryan Villalobos and Alex White; middle row, Brayden Phillips, Gabriel King, Adrienne Arnold, Austin Falk, Emilio Soto, Victor Luquin, Jose Lopez, Connor Tipton, Humberto Mendoza, Matthew Rogers and Keilet Rodriquez; front row, Michelle Murphy, Danielle Bryant, Autumn Cooper, Mary Pendleton, Quartnee Baker, Chloe Fletcher, Danika Hendricks, Abigail Vidrio, Mikayla Beard and Karrah Dean; not pictured, Samuel Cox and John Tolley. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

Coach Lydia Hilliard has high hopes for the 2019 Unicoi County Middle School cross country season.

“We have runners from last season that have been running on their own and are ready and eager for a successful season,” Hilliard told The Erwin Record. “We also welcome coach Kelly Whaley to our cross country teams.”

There are 20 Jr. Blue Devils and 10 Jr. Lady Devils racing for UCMS this season.

“Coach Whaley and I expect each runner to work hard all season, set goals, continue to improve, decrease running time and, of course, enjoy the experience,” Hilliard said.

Experienced runners, including Keilet Rodriguez who qualified for the TMSAA Cross Country State Championships last season, are leading the way for the Jr. Blue Devils.

“Returning runners Keilet Rodriguez, Luke Capps, Kade Lemmon and Victor Luquin have been running strong for the boys’ team and new runners Gabriel King and Brayden Phillips are showing great potential.”

Sixth grader runners Danika Hendricks and Abigail Vidrio have been lead runners for the girls’ team, according to Hilliard.

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The UCMS runners competed in their first meet of the season on Aug. 24 at the Run for the Hills held in Bristol. Two-hundred runners, representing 14 teams, competed on the Run for the Hills’ 1.5-mile course.

The Jr. Lady Devils turned in a team score of 287 thanks to the following individual results: Hendriks in 29th place with a time of 11:46; Vidrio in 40th place with a time of 12:19; Mary Pendleton in 60th pace with a time of 13:35; Mikayla Beard in 76th place with a time of 14:36; and Danielle Bryant in 82nd place with a time of 15:50.

In the boys’ race, 260 runners, representing 17 teams competed in the Run for the Hills. The Jr. Blue Devils turned in a team score of 237. Individual results included: Capps in 22nd place with a time of 10:11; Rodriguez in 28th place with a time of 10:18; Lemmon in 58th place with a time of 11:14; VLuquin in 64th pace with a time of 11:25; and Phillips in 65th place with a time of 11:29.

At the Terry Hull Crawford Classic in Greeneville on Thursday, Aug. 29, the UCMS teams raced on a 2-mile course.

The Jr. Lady Devils competed in a field of 240 runners, representing 19 teams and posted a team score of 354. Individual performances for the team included: Hendricks in 42nd place with a time of 16:35; Vidrio in 53rd place with a time of 17:00; Pendleton in 72nd place in a time of 18:21; Michelle Murphy in 92nd place with a time of 20:54; and Beard in 95th place with a time of 21:17.

The Jr. Blue Devils competed in a field of 307 runners, representing 22 teams and finished with a team score of 248. Rodriguez placed 18th with a time of 13:36; Capps placed 22nd with a time of 13:49; Lemmon placed 62 with a time of 15:27; Luquin placed 66th with a time of 15:39; and King placed 80th with a time of 16:06.

The next meet for the UCMS runners is the Warriors Invitational in Kingsport on Thursday, Sept. 5.