published Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Signal Mountain girls' cross country team state champs

NASHVILLE — Madison Drennan and the rest of the Signal Mountain girls' cross country team didn't need any official results posted to know the Lady Eagles had secured the program's first A/AA state championship. The team knew pretty quickly.

So did everyone else around the state.

Four Lady Eagles earned all-state honors, and Signal cruised to the title with 42 points -- nearly half that of second-place Christian Academy of Knoxville.

Mallory Young was the first finisher for Signal, taking third. Drennan was right behind her in fourth, and Becca Umbarger's and Taylor Luthringer's 12th- and 13th-place finishes all but locked up the title. The Lady Eagles' fifth runner, Chandler Chastain, was 21st.

"We've worked very hard for this, and it's great to see that hard work pay off," said Drennan, one of three seniors. "The seniors told the underclassmen before the race that this was our last chance to run, and to push through the pain -- if not for yourself, for the team."

Signal coach Kim Brown -- whose boys finished 11th -- was pleased with her teams' final performance.

"I'm happy to see the seniors go out like this," Brown said. "These girls deserve so much. They didn't say a single word before the race, which is unusual for them, but I didn't worry because I've stopped telling them what to do. They were focused and came out and proved that today."

Bradley Central's Harold Smith was the only other area all-stater, taking 11th in the AAA boys' race in 16 minutes, 17.51 seconds.

"That first mile was so fast, I wasn't sure how I was going to make it through," Smith said. "I stayed with the pack like I had been doing.

"I really wanted to improve on last year. I didn't run a smart race last year, so I wanted to race better than I did before. I did what I wanted to do this year, because I had a better place and a better time than last year."

He shaved 32 seconds off his 14th-place 2012 state-meet time.

Arts & Sciences was 21st and Red Bank 23rd in the A/AA boys' race. The Polk County girls were 17th, with CSAS finishing 21st. Ooltewah's boys were 22nd in the AAA race.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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