BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — Three seasons ago, Caitlin Duggan placed 13th and the Baylor School girls' cross country team won the Division II-AA state championship. She was the eighth runner on the 2010 team that three-peated as titlists, but then an injury last year sidelined her.
Saturday she finished 13th in the state meet, and guess what? Baylor is the champion again.
Duggan was one of four Lady Red Raiders to place in the top 15, and they edged out Brentwood Academy 60-63 to reclaim the state title -- their fourth in five years.
"It's amazing, especially knowing that I'm a huge part of it," Duggan said. "We didn't have anybody on the team that was a No. 1 runner, so it felt a lot better, like we were all a part of it."
Grace Carlson, Haley Chandler and Sydney Gautier as well as Duggan made all-state, as did GPS's Lucy Whitfield after a 14th-place finish. Baylor's Ruthie Townsend finished 17th.
"Today was about doing what we've done all season -- working so hard to prepare physically and mentally," Baylor coach Heather Ott said. "You have to understand that cross country has a lot of moments."
Ott praised Duggan as well as fellow seniors Chandler and Townsend.
"It's hard having to say goodbye to them," the coach said. "They are our nucleus and have been for five years. This is just an emotional moment for me."
In Class AAA, defending state champion Haley Ward of McMinn County finished third while Cleveland's Beka Day just missed out on all-state honors with an 18th-place finish. Signal Mountain's Mallory Young was sixth in the Class A/AA field, helping her team to a sixth-place finish. Notre Dame was seventh as a team.
"We've worked really hard all year and have been consistent," Signal coach Kim Brown said. "I know we're building something with this program; we have a couple coming up that are fast.
"We have a really strong program that's getting better and better every year."
The story of the day might not have been a top finisher but an act that involved three Chattanooga-area girls. As runners were heading toward the final chute, Science Hill's Hannah Dunbar collapsed on the course. Rhea County's Madalyn Garland and Kierstynn Conley and Soddy-Daisy's Kacy Roberson stopped to pick up the runner -- sacrificing potential better finishes.
"We talk all the time about doing the right thing," Rhea coach Steffan Holder said. "We try to run with honor. I didn't even see what happened, but other coaches came and told me that was admirable.
"I'm proud of the girls --I really am."