By Keeli Parkey
The first meet of the season for coach Lydia Hilliard’s Unicoi County Middle School Cross Country teams took place on a hot Saturday afternoon in Sullivan County.
The Jr. Blue Devils were one of 22 boys’ teams participating in the Run for the Hills – a 1.5 mile long race – hosted by Sullivan East High School at South Holston Dam on Aug. 27. The Jr. Lady Devils were one of 19 girls’ teams in the meet.
According to Hilliard, her girls team earned a sixth-place finish with a score of 211. Out of the 250 girl runners in the meet, Jr. Lady Devil Marissa Soulier placed 14th, with a time of 10:32 to lead her team.
Other notable Jr. Lady Devil finishes were: Destiny Bridges in 33rd place with a time of 11:25; Halie Dehoff in 50th place with a time of 11:55; Valeria Ponce in 55th place with a time of 12:14; and Sabrina Todd in 59th place with a time of 12:18.
Hilliard also reported that the Jr. Blue Devils finished in 17th place with a score of 435. There were 339 boys competing in the meet.
Three runners paced UCMS at the meet. They were: Isaiah Smith in 57th place with a time of 10:10; Jordan Bridges in 68th pace with a time of 10:16; and Zachary Hopson in 70th place with a time of 10:19.
Other notable finishes for the Jr. Blue Devils were Aidan O’Hare in 108th place with a time of 11:19 and Eli Riddell in 132nd place with a time of 12:32.
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The UCMS cross country teams are made up of a host of runners this season. Hilliard said she expects returning runners Smith, Bridges and Hopson, as well as new runners O’Hare and Riddell, to lead the Jr. Blue Devils.
Expected to lead the Jr. Lady Devils are returning runners Soulier, Dehoff, Ponce and Todd, as well as new runner Bridges.
Hillard said runners for both teams want to be successful.
“I am very proud of both teams,” she said. “They work hard and give great effort.”
Serving as an assistant coach for the program this season is Jonathan Kenney.
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The UCMS runners are scheduled to travel to Greeneville on Thursday, Sept. 1, for the Terry Hull Crawford Classic. The Jr. Blue Devils are scheduled to run 5 p.m., with the Jr. Lady Devils following at 5:20 p.m.