Cross-country team earns spot in State Meet

  • The Lady Indians cross country team flexes its muscles before earning a fourth place team finish at the Region 7-AAA championship to advance to the GHSA State Cross Country Championship Meet last week.
    The Lady Indians cross country team flexes its muscles before earning a fourth place team finish at the Region 7-AAA championship to advance to the GHSA State Cross Country Championship Meet last week.
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It was a bittersweet day for the LCHS varsity cross country team when the Indians and Lady Indians competed at the Region 7-AAA Championship Meet at Unicoi State Park on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
On the one hand, the Lady Indians ran their way to a fourth place team finish which allowed them to qualify for the upcoming State Championship Meet in Carrollton. this Saturday, Nov. 2.
On the other hand, the boys team finished one spot shy of punching their ticket to the State Championship Meet with a fifth place team finish at the region championship.
The biggest story for Lumpkin at the Region 7-AAA Championship Meet was Lady Indian runner Abbie Hilchie. Hilchie, who has been at the front of the pack for the majority of the season for the Lady Indians, led the charge for Lumpkin at the region championship. Hilchie completed the course at Unicoi State Park in a time of 21:03 to finish in fourth place individually at the event.
“Abbie [Hilchie] is a fun-loving and easy-going person,” said LCHS head cross country coach Nicky Jenkins. “However, running changes her. She has a desire to compete and is disappointed in herself when she doesn’t reach her goal. She wants to be a state champion and the good thing for us is she’s just a sophomore. She will continue to improve as long as that desire stays there. I’m very proud of what she’s accomplished.”
Hilchie’s individual performance was enough to qualify the sophomore for the State Meet, but strong running from her teammates meant that Hilchie wouldn’t have to compete at the State event alone.
Emily Martinez, Caroline Rairigh, Elvia Garcia and Tatianna Lovell all finished in the Top 25 during the race to help the Lady Indians earn a fourth place team finish and secure a team spot at the State Meet.
Martinez was the second fastest runner for Lumpkin at the region championship meet. The senior earned an 18th place individual performance by completing the course with a time of 22:42. Following right behind Martinez was Rairigh. Despite nursing an ankle injury, Rairigh put in a gutsy effort to earn herself a 22nd place individual finish. Rairigh completed the race with a time of 23:07. Garcia and Lovell rounded out the top five runners for the Lady Indians during the race. Garcia earned a 23rd place individual finish with a time of 23:18 and Lovell earned a 24th place individual finish with a time of 23:22.
Kelly Cronan, who finished the race in 29th place with a time of 24:22, and Tatum Coulter, who earned a 33rd place finish with a time of 24:52, also ran well for the Lady Indians at the region meet.
“This is a great group of young ladies that run for each other,” Jenkins said. “We have talked about strategy a lot and using each other to pull you along when you aren’t having a good day. What a lot of people don’t know is Emily Martinez and Tatianna Lovell also compete on the Raiders team. They practice with us and then they go to Raiders practice. Caroline Rairigh suffered a severe sprained ankle two weeks ago. She has had daily therapy just to be able to compete in the region championship. Elvia Garcia is just mentally strong. When she hurts, she just keeps going. Kelly Cronan and Tatum Coulter are two we don’t mention a whole lot and have really improved their times on the season. They aren’t far behind our top five. If one of them falls, their times have been good enough to pick up the slack.”
Lumpkin finished the meet in fourth place in the team standings behind first place North Hall, second place Cherokee Bluff and third place Dawson County.
The Lady Indians also got a glimpse of the future of the program when eighth grader Ryann Jones ran he way to a first place overall finish in the Region 7-AAA JV race. The young speedster showed off the kind of talent that should be welcomed by the Lady Indians next season, especially with several of the Lady Indians’ runners in their final season with the team.
While the Lady Indians enjoyed a State Meet berth at the Region 7-AAA Championship Meet, the Indians missed out on going to State by one spot in the boys’ team standings.
Despite missing out on the State Meet, the Indians put up sensational times at the region championship with each of their runners finishing the course at Unicoi State Park in under 20 minutes.
Jorge Romero led the pack for the Indians at the event, earning a 24th place individual finish with a time of 18:04. Kyle Trammell followed closely behind Romero with a 29th place individual finish, completing the race with a time of 18:45. Westley Adams, Camden Dover and Laken Ferrell rounded out the top five runners for Lumpkin at the meet. Adams earned a 30th place finish with a time of 18:58, Dover earned a 34th place finish with a time of 19:09 and Ferrell ran his way to a 35th place finish with a time of 19:12.
The Indians also received notable performances from Sam Gooch and Will Edwards at the region meet. Gooch finished in 36th place with a time of 19:21 and Edwards earned 37th place with a time of 19:24.
“They didn’t qualify for state but all seven of them ran under a 20 minute 5k,” Jenkins said. “That’s the first time that’s happened all year. Three of them were under 19 minutes. The improvement and dedication of these guys changed drastically during the year. Many fought through injuries and weren’t able to train daily. We will lose three of our top five runners to graduation. I appreciate all the hard work they put into our program.”
Jenkins and the Lady Indians will now focus on what they need to do in order to make a strong showing at the GHSA Class AAA State Championship Meet in Carrollton, Ga.
“As always, we concentrate on our individual times rather than worrying about where we are going to finish,” Jenkins said. “Our focus will be trying to set new personal records and using each other to do that. If we accomplish that, where we place will take care of itself. The team finished just outside the Top 10 last year and most of them were there. I don’t think the moment will be to big for them. It will be a very crowded race (32 teams with seven runners per team). They just need to get off to a good, safe start, keep their teammates in sight and relax.”
The Lady Indians will look to put in one more strong performance during the 2019 season when they travel to Carrollton High School to compete in the GHSA State Cross Country Championship Meet this Saturday, Nov. 2. The race is scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m.