Jasper Budd likely hasn’t run his best race yet, but only because he hasn’t been challenged by anyone in his classification.
Budd, a senior at Jellico High School, regularly finishes ahead of all the Class A/AA boys at area cross-country meets. That includes Thursday’s meet at Norris Dam, where he was runner-up to Sterling Smith of Karns, a school with over three times the enrollment of Jellico.
“Our goal this year is to try and get him in the top 25 at state,” said Jellico coach Mike Reynolds.
Last year, Budd finished second at the Region 2-A/AA Championships and became the first Jellico cross-country runner to qualify for state.
His best time this season is 18:04. Budd coasted to an 18:26 finish at Norris Dam.
“He’s got more in him. He’s just not showed that in a meet yet,” said Reynolds.
Jellico teammate Ethan Shelley, a junior, has established himself as a strong number two man for the Blue Devils. He was clocked at 19:34 during Thursday’s race.
“He’s put himself in position to qualify for state, as well,” said Reynolds.
Lee England (78th), Brady Huddleston (112th) and Austin Hunley (114th) were the other three scorers for Jellico, which finished 10th in the team standings.
James England was the surprise of the day for Campbell County’s boys, which finished fourth out of 12 teams at Norris Dam. England ran 19:15 to finish eighth overall and ahead of renowned teammates Chase Lindsay (24th), Dayne Deavours (30th), Lucas Nelson (47th) and Austin McMahan (48th).
Aaron Brown ran a strong number two for the Cougars and finished 18th overall with a time of 19:53. Nathan Kennedy, the fifth scorer for Campbell County, placed 38th overall.
Even though she has been plagued with a nagging foot injury, Campbell County junior Lauren Evans went toe-to-toe with Jefferson County star Kara Webb before falling behind in the last quarter mile. Webb took first place with a time of 20:49, a full seven seconds ahead of Evans.
“I think (Lauren) did well, especially considering her foot was hurt,” said her mother, Campbell County coach Billie Ann Evans.
I’d like to see her go into the upper 19s before the year is out. That’s what it will take to qualify for state.”
The Lady Cougars finished third as a team behind girl’s champion Cumberland Gap and runner-up Morristown East.
Freshman Michaela Thomas showed some spunk by placing 16th overall with a time of 24:54 for Campbell County. The Lady Cougars’ other three scorers were Christina Goodman (32nd), Maria Green (37th) and Camille Reynolds (40th).
Jellico did not field a complete girl’s team, but Vanessa Troxell did finish 23rd in a field of 90 runners.
“Vanessa is in the ballpark (of making the Class A/AA meet,” said Reynolds.
Next up for local runners is a meet this afternoon (Thurs.) at Victor Ashe Park in northwest Knoxville.