Athletes come together at cross country
Where can you find a dancer, wrestler and swimmer competing together?
It turns out cross country can pull in a diverse field of athletes. Among a flurry of newcomers at Gatlinburg-Pittman’s home opener on Thursday were the Highlanders’ Lindsey Myers, a swimmer who won the girls race, The King’s Academy’s Niamh Schumacher, a dancer who was third in the girls’ field, and Pigeon Forge’s Gavin Hutchens, a wrestler who finished fifth in the boys race.
“I’ve always loved running,” Schumacher said. “I did well in gym class and stuff. I’ve never run competitively before and I just decided I should do high school cross country. And my brothers did it, too.”
Schumacher’s brother Patrick, running for Seymour, won the boys race in 17 minutes, 12 seconds. Myers finished in 19:50 while Niamh Schumacher’s time of 21:39 got her third in the girls field.
Hutchens, who plans to wrestle at Pigeon Forge this winter, was the fifth boy across in 19:15. It was his second career race after running at Panther Creek earlier this week.
“When you go into wrestling, you’ve got to have the stamina,” Hutchens said. “This will help.”
Myers helped the Highlanders (31) to the team win, edging Seymour (43) and Northview Academy (106). The Seymour boys (36) beat G-P (43), Pigeon Forge (66), Northview (106) and TKA (117).
The swimmer said she was happy with her start to the season.
“I just like to compete,” Myers said. “I don’t like being beat.
She wasn’t on this day, finishing nearly two minutes clear of Pigeon Forge’s Sara Caldwell, who was second. The freshman said she’s already got her eyes on the state meet this fall, somewhere boys winner Patrick Schumacher wants to get to as well.
“This is the first meet of the season, so I’m happy how it turned out,” he said. “I’m just trying to set a good time for the rest of the season. Set some goals, see where we’re at and move from there. I feel pretty confident, hope to place in the top 10 in some of the bigger meets.”
The veteran senior seemed outnumbered by the youth at Thursday’s meet. Northview Academy was allowed to enter eighth graders because the school doesn’t go higher than ninth grade. One of those eighth graders, Taylor McCartey, was the school’s top finisher in seventh with a time of 20:12. It was his first race.
“I definitely learned that practice helps a lot,” McCartey said. “There’s no way I’d be able to do it without practicing.”