Top-10s for Laws, Schumacher
Smart running helped two local individuals and a team earn top-10 finishes at the state cross country meet on Saturday.
Sevier County’s Brandon Laws and The King’s Academy’s Niamh Schumacher were each seventh in their respective races at the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s state championships. Gatlinburg-Pittman’s girls were eighth in the class A/AA race where Pigeon Forge’s Sara Caldwell finished 19th as an individual. Fellow Tiger Gavin Hutchens finished 43rd in the boys A/AA event.
The county’s best male finish came from Laws in the boys AAA race. He set a school record with a time of 16 minutes, 11.51 seconds on the Steeplechase Course at Percy Warner Park.
“He ran a smart race,” said Bears coach Dan Hanlon. “He didn’t go out too fast. He was 5:06 at the mile which is exactly where he should’ve been. ... I don’t know that (seventh has) ever been done at SCHS before. We’re very proud of him. I hope this is the type of thing that can build our program.”
Lions coach Jeff Ayers was equally thrilled with Schumacher’s day. The freshman finished in 21:37.51 in the Division II-A girls race. Ayers said she benefitted from running this same course at the regional meet.
“She definitely learned from last week’s course,” Ayers said. “I believe last week she had taken off a little bit too fast. She is a competitor. She is a shy, little girl when you’re talking to her but you can see the competitiveness come out when she’s out there running.”
Caldwell did well for Pigeon Forge in the A/AA girls race, wrapping up her career by finishing 19th in 20:56.18. Pigeon Forge coach Greg Foreman said he saw more strategy from the senior this year. Foreman called Hutchens’ performance on the boys side a “feat” the freshman can build on after he finished with his best time of the year (18:03.94).
“I think both of the runners peaked at the right time,” Foreman said. “I don’t think you could ask for anything more from the season.”
Gatlinburg-Pittman coach Rick Cross said he was happy with all his girls, who finished eighth in the state. Senior Claire Ballentine had the school’s top time. She was 26th in 21:16.51. Lindsey Myers was 41st with a time of 22:03.62. Kayla Carr and Summer Wegworth finished within .27 seconds of each other. Carr was 75 (23:00.20) with Wegworth a spot back in 23:00.47. Kylie Loveday (24:29.73), Sharee Reagan (30:42.82) and MiKayla Huskey (31:21.43) rounded out the Highlanders’ effort.
“These are the top teams in the state,” Cross said. “You finished eighth. I don’t think that’s bad at all. ... I’m real happy. Any time you go to the state championship as a team you’ve got to be proud of the school and their accomplishments. I’m proud of my kids.”