It was important for Janelle Wigal to defend successfully her Region 3-A/AA individual cross country title. From her reaction after she won, though, it was more important how her Arts & Sciences' teammates performed.
The Lady Patriots retained their team title along with Wigal's Thursday in the 3-A/AA and 4-A/AA championships at Chickamauga Dam. East Hamilton's Nick McCormick did the same in defending his boys' win of 2011, completing the five-kilometer run in 16 minutes, 54.20 seconds. His team was second to Sweetwater.
Polk County was second in girls and third in boys in Region 3, and Sequoyah's girls finished third, qualifying for the state meet.
Central Magnet from Murfreesboro swept the Region 4 titles. Signal Mountain was second in girls and third in boys, and the Notre Dame girls were third.
Wigal finished in 22:58.19, knocking a couple seconds off her 2011 time. Teammates Shelby Keith and Maggie Fraser gave the Lady Patriots a 1-2-3 finish.
"I was more pumped about how our team did than how I did," Wigal said. "My goal was to keep up with my friend Lynn [Fults of Red Bank] in the first mile, and I got that.
"I was going up the hill, and my mom told me, 'Now,' so I thought that meant go and I took off."
McCormick really had no other goal than to win. Like everyone else, he had trained in cooler weather the past couple of weeks, so Thursday's relative heat made the race a little tougher.
"It's a lot harder. I haven't been used to sweating lately," McCormick said. "I felt like I was going to die of dehydration. I didn't like the feeling."
He did get the win, though.
"I've never raced a tougher course, but it was my goal to win," he said.
Area individuals who qualified for the state race by placing in the top 10 not on advancing teams were East Hamilton's Carli Lawson and Emily Meadow, Red Bank's Fults, McMinn Central's Acacia Stillwell and Boyd-Buchanan's Brett Tucker in Region 3 girls; Red Bank's Nicholas Gagliano, Central's Nathaniel Nalley, CSAS's Quaci Suttles in Region 3 boys; and Notre Dame's Nick McGirl and CCS's Sarah Hoffman in Region 4.
Rhea wins 3-AAA
Led by a trio of top-10 finishers, the Rhea County girls won the Region 3-AAA championship at Fort Bluff Camp near Dayton. Cookeville was second in the girls' race and first in the boys with Cumberland County second.
McMinn County's Haley Ward and Bradley Central's Harold Smith won individual region titles. Smith's time of 16 minutes, 26:51 seconds was less than two seconds ahead of teammate Paul Patterson.
Ward finished in 18:48. Cleveland's Beka Day was second and Soddy-Daisy's Kacy Roberson finished eighth to qualify for the state meet.
Cleveland's boys had two top-10 finishes and qualified for state, while Walker Valley's Patrick Shultz, Soddy-Daisy's Joe Kirk, McMinn's Austin Wiseman and Ooltewah's Ben Oates qualified individually.