Cyclones prove to be simply the best
Photo By Rick Harris
Elizabethton's Josh Jaynes (left) finished first in the event, while teammeate Adam Green (center) took third-place honors. They are joined up front by the second-plate finisher, Chris Blackburn of Sullivan Central.
KINGSPORT--The Watauga Conference cross-country Championship was run on Thursday, and Elizabethton proved to be the best of the best in the boys' competition.
It was a team effort all year long, which has propelled the Cyclones to the front, and after grabbing three out of the four top spots, they clinched first place in team points.
Adam Green has paced the Cyclones most of the season, and junior Josh Jaynes has risen to become the leader here of late.
"He ran well, and last week he ran well after being in a car wreck on Sunday," Elizabethton coach Jim Presnell said of Jaynes. "And today he stepped up and has been our number one runner for the last three races. I thought we ran real well in one through four, and then I was a little disappointed with our fifth and sixth runners performance, which made it closer than it should have been.
"They're capable of doing better, but from top to bottom we were pretty strong."
After the first lap, both Green and Jaynes found themselves battling Chris Blackburn of Sullivan Central. Green had the slim advantage, but both Jaynes and Blackburn were knocking at the door.
"I just pushed myself as hard as I could, and I had my teammate Adam Green helping push me throughout the race, so it kept me going and going," said Jaynes. "At the end I just gave it everything I had, a hundred percent."
In the last half mile, Jaynes started to pick up the pace and stretch his advantage.
Blackburn was trying to keep stride, while Green started to slip back away from the leaders.
There was no chance of Blackburn reeling Jaynes in, as he had enough left in the tank to not drop-off in speed.
"He surprised me being up there. He dogged us all race and it was all I could do to get away from him at the end," said Jaynes. "My game strategy was to push myself and hang up front, and then try to outkick everybody at the end."
Jaynes finished with a personal best time of 16:07, which was seven seconds ahead of second-place Blackburn.
Green finished in third, while teammate David McDaniel crossed the line in fourth with a time of 16:36.
Todd Skelton of Volunteer rounded out the top five, while the Cyclones' Corey Henson finished eighth.
Elizabethton's Joseph Basconi and Caleb McDaniel helped filled in the top 15 with a 14th and 15th-place finishes, respectively.
"We all got out really good and had a lot of people in the top 20," said Jaynes. "We kind of dominated and kept them from getting in front of us -- it was a real team effort. I'm looking forward to both the regional and state, and now I just have to give 100 percent."
In the women's event, it was Sullivan Central's Katye Stone outshining the rest of the competition. Stone defeated second-place Jacklyn Talbert of Volunteer by over a half-minute margin with a time of 18:52.
"I've had some not-so-good races, but today I felt pretty good and I was not too tight," said Stone. "I think our whole team did pretty good today overall, and I think we can get in the top three at the regionals, hopefully."
The Cougars also won as a team, as they defeated runner-up Elizabethton, with University High and Happy Valley rounding out third and fourth, respectively.
"I was really happy with the girls race," said Sullivan Central coach Mark Dingus. "We've had a few interruptions along the way and practice sessions were interrupted for a lot of different reasons. I'm glad my team came together. They ran real well today."
Helania Masters of Volunteer was third, while the highest finishing Lady Cyclone, Regina Basconi, earned a fourth-place spot with a time of 20:09.
Leah Lowe of Unicoi County edged out Happy Valley's highest finisher, Ashley Flynn, by a three-second margin for fifth place.
An eighth place finish from Shanna Raines enabled her too become the second Lady Warrior to finish inside the top 10, while Courtney Towle was the runner-up representative for Elizabethton, coming in at ninth.
Lindsey McAmis was the only other Cyclone to finish inside the top 15, coming in with a 13th-place finish and time of 21:48.
"We coming along, and the girls are still taking baby steps, but both our fourth and fifth runners ran better today than what they have so far," said Presnell. "My two top girls ran exceptionally well today, and when they start running better, then we'll start looking better."