McCallie's cross country team had yet to run a meet against area competition all season long, instead choosing to go to national-level events to face top-caliber competition. Thursday afternoon in the Front Runner Championships, they showed the area how good they could be.
The Blue Tornado -- ranked No. 2 nationally in Division II in the latest XCNation rankings -- had six of the top eight runners and blew away the field, finishing with 19 points in the five-kilometer meet at Baylor. Derek Barnes won the individual title.
In the girls' race, Mallory Young and her Signal Mountain team were the winners. Young finished in 18 minutes, 51.31 seconds -- 40 seconds better than second-place Grace Carlson of Baylor. The Lady Eagles had four of the top 12 finishers as they prepare for the Region 4-A/AA meet at Fort Bluff on Oct. 24.
"I'm just so happy that I can't stop smiling," Signal coach Kim Brown said. "The girls did so well today."
Barnes usually uses a kick down the stretch to pull out wins, but he didn't need one in his 15:52.65 finish Thursday. Bradley Central's Harold Smith prevented the Blue Tornado from having an all-blue top five, using his own kick to post a personal-best time of 15:56.28, which narrowly defeated Ramsay Ritchie.
Also for the Tornado, Dylan Carmack, Matthew Jones and Tommy Ellis were fourth through sixth and Reed Oscar was eighth.
"I'm really happy with our guys, especially the 3, 4 and 5 guys," Barnes said. "We had a good pack mentality and focused on our strategy. It was the first time we'd packed together and we're still progressing and we're still getting better, but we still have a ways to go."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.