Chattanooga private schools put on a clinic during Friday’s TSSAA Division II cross country state meets at Hendersonville’s Sanders Ferry Park.
GPS and McCallie raced to the team titles in DII-AA, while Baylor freshman Mae Mae Powe — also in DII-AA — and Chattanooga Christian School senior Jack Cottrell in DII-A made history by winning individual state championships.
Powe became the Lady Red Raiders’ first individual champion since Hannah Jumper Wilson in 2010 as she finished the her 5k (3.1-mile) race with a time of 19 minutes, 2 seconds. Powe received a congratulatory message from the former champion soon after Friday’s race.
“Mae Mae loves this team and school so much, and her performance today reflected that,” said Baylor coach Heather Ott, whose team also had sophomore Helen Webb finish ninth overall in 20:03.
“Mae Mae is tough and extremely talented. She had to believe in herself. In mid-October she was sidelined with an IT band injury, but she trusted her training and showed exceptional poise and confidence today.”
Cottrell ran fluidly to his state title with a time of 16:18.
Meanwhile, a team sweep was landed by the brother and sister schools as McCallie and GPS had young runners make a huge impact for their programs.
Blue Tornado freshman Evan Simpson and Grady Outlaw led the way with fourth- and ninth-place finishes as they finished in 16:33 and 16:44, respectively. McCallie’s top five was rounded out by all-state finisher and senior Benjamin Niehaus (16:53), Hugh Carlson (17:03, 16th) and Vito Knoop (17:04, 17th).
“This is our program’s seventh state championship and one of the most unexpected ones yet,” said McCallie cross country coach Mike Wood, whose runners finished with an average time of 16:51. “We came in ranked fourth to the state meet, but I told our boys they had a chance if they ran really well and followed the strategy we made a few weeks ago when we came up to train and scout the course.
“They started off not too fast but in a good position. In the middle part of the race they started to move up, and in the last 800 meters they improved position. To see them execute it was amazing for all the coaches to watch, and we are so proud of them.”
Knoop filled in remarkably to the top five as an injury scratch let the first-year McCallie runner shine. He transferred after sports at Riverside Military Academy were canceled due to COVID-19.
Niehaus was an all-state finisher last year for the Blue Tornado, who now are back-to-back champions.
Katie Outlaw’s GPS team won its title with an average top-five finish time of 20:01.
Senior Jane Eiselstein led the way with a fourth-place finish in 19:28. The Bruisers standout was followed by a stout eighth-grade foursome of Frances Bohner (20:02, eighth), Gilly Shumate (20:03.09, 10th), Mary Wamack (20:04, 11th) and Tessie Braman (20:27). All four middle schoolers were all-state performers.
Other all-state finishers from the Chattanooga area in Friday’s championship races included Chattanooga Christian’s Phoebe Moran (20:09, 13th), Baylor’s Xian Campbell (16:40, 7th), Notre Dame’s Colton Sanborn (17:21, 13th) and Sophie Welch (20:55, 9th), along with Silverdale Baptist’s Gabe Placer (17:21, 14th).
Notre Dame’s and Baylor’s boys both finished fifth. Joseph Shramko finished 16th overall for the Fighting Irish in 17:39, while Garrison Corley was 23rd overall with a 17:15 finish for the Red Raiders.
Carson Turner of CCS finished 20th overall with a time of 17:09.
Baylor’s girls finished third overall and received a strong performance from Addison Johnson (21:31, 32nd).
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.