With about 100 meters to go at the McCallie Invitational cross country meet Saturday, it was clear that a Blue Tornado runner was about to be victorious. But in that final stretch, the answer as to who that would be changed.
Derek Barnes used a huge kick in the final meters to overtake teammate Matthew Jones and claim the victory at Greenway Farm, covering the five-kilometer fast course in 16 minutes, 2.47 seconds. His time clipped Jones by 1.49 seconds.
McMinn County's Haley Ward won the first meet she competed in this season, finishing in 18:55.67.
McCallie had no problem claiming the team title, finishing with 44 points as Ramsay Ritchie and Will Moore added top-10 finishes.
Oak Ridge was second with 92. Ravenwood won the girls' title with 60 points. GPS was the top local girls' team finisher, taking ninth.
Even though it was a competition, it was all smiles between Barnes and Jones as they discussed the finish.
"Coach [Mike Wood] had us pumped up today, and we really went after it. Our front pack had an amazing race," Jones said. "Derek always comes from behind. I've never been good at kicking, and he just came from nowhere.
"I thought I was going to get it."
Barnes said he always has a kick at the end because "the sooner you cross the line, the sooner you're done.
"It's a great feeling to win my first race," he said. "I thought as a team, we had a great race overall."
Also a standout soccer player, Ward had played six matches in the previous seven days. She felt that slowed her some, but she was never truly threatened, defeating Knoxville Webb's Peighton Meske by 14 seconds.
"I thought I did all right," Ward said. "I was tired and I thought I did my best with what I could do. My goal was just to win, and I did that."