Heat plays role in Lady Warriors' runner-up finish

By Wes Holtsclaw

   It was like a rollercoaster.
   During the 1-A/AA girls state cross country championship, the Happy Valley Lady Warriors made a strong showing. It was their year to win the state title, but the heat was simply too much.
   The team pulled away with second place overall in the event. Two Lady Warriors placed in the top ten, including Katie Williams, who placed third for the second time in her career, and junior Ashley Flynn, who came away with tenth at Percy Warner Park in Nashville.
   But many of the thoughts were towards senior Kortney Goulds, who collapsed during the race due to dehydration, but went on to finish 123rd.
   "After Kortney got hurt, we got worried about her, and it was hard to focus on what place we got," said Happy Valley cross country coach Don Verran.
   "We were disappointed not to get first, but we were tickled to get second. Any other year, it would've been great to get second, but we thought we had a better team."
   Verran noted that Goulds looked very tired during one of the stretches, but she wasn't the only one.
   "She got dehydrated and was not her normal self," he said. "She collapsed and finally got up and finished the race. They said there was a lot more that had trouble."
   Goulds' finish was enough for David Lipscomb to creep into the first-place team slot, while Chattanooga Christian placed third.
   As for Williams, she had a good race despite not winning a state title.
   "She ran well, and we were hoping she would win." the coach said. "Again, due to the heat, the course was slow and it affected more than others. I've been there before and it's snowed and been cold."
   Flynn turned many heads during her finish, as she made all-state. She finished with a group including runners from Christian and Jessica Carpenter of Elizabethton.
   "(Ashley) did what we wanted of her and what we talked about being one of our goals," Verran said. "She ran well."
   Perhaps the biggest help to the Lady Warriors' overall result was the group of Samantha Canter (33rd), Kate Powell (35th) and Shanna Raines (39th), who all finished within eight seconds of each other, while Jennifer Neagle finished in the 75th position.
   "We talked about trying to get closer together (in groups)," said the coach. "They did it this time and did a great job."
   Luckily for Happy Valley, the other runners handled the heat well on the tough Steeplechase Course.
   Although certain team members may have felt bad about the outcome, Verran notes that it was still a team event.
   "You win as a team and lose as a team," he said. "If we didn't have (Kortney), we may have not been there. It's one of those deals. It wasn't our particular day."
   The Lady Warriors lose excellent runners in their senior trio of Williams, Goulds and Powell, but should field a strong team for the future.
   "We had some good performances this year and the girls worked to death," Verran added. "It's been a joy to work at our goals. We're not out, though. We'll work and be back next year."