Three years ago when they met at the Panther Creek Invitational, the Morristown West High School girls were gearing up for a state cross-country championship while Campbell County was just trying to compete.
Fast forward to Aug. 25, 2009. Two weeks earlier, the Lady Cougars showed that they had narrowed the competitive gap between themselves and the host Lady Trojans during a narrow 10-point loss to the perennial meet champs.
Campbell County closed the gap even more in the two weeks since. Last Tuesday, (Sept. 8), the Lady Cougars secured their first-ever Panther Creek championship with a one-point win, 68-69, over Greeneville. Morristown West, with its storied program, finished a very close third with 71 points in a large field that included 20 teams.
“As many years as we’ve been going up there, we’ve never finished better than second place,” said Campbell County coach Jim Pierce.
“I was really impressed that our girls were able to beat Morristown West, which usually goes to state and had beaten us two weeks before.”
Lady Cougars’ sophomore Lauren Evans took third place overall with a time of 22:55. She and teammate Shelby Jones, who finished 13th, with a time of 24:22 ran better times than they did two weeks ago on the same course. Jones beat her previous time by almost a minute and a half.
College prospect Carlie Childress ran a slower pace than the previous week but still managed to get 15th place. Lindsay Evans (17th) and Camille Reynolds (39th) rounded out the scoring for Campbell County.
Even after most of the runners had come in, Pierce still had no idea the Lady Cougars were in contention for the meet championship. Childress had already left Morristown and was headed back to Campbell County when the coach called her with the good news.
Other finishers for the Lady Cougars included Courtney Miller, 45th; Lucy Branam, 48th; Christina Goodman, 56th; Haley Adkins, 68th; Jessica Moore, 69th; Amber Young, 77th; Campbell Reynolds, 78th; Allison Parker, 81st; Angelita Chapman, 90th; and Cassandra Wallen, 96th.
Campbell County’s boys placed sixth out of 16 teams in their race at Panther Creek.
Dayne Deavours finished 30th overall with a time of 20:43. Also scoring for the Cougars were Lucas Nelson, 42nd; Nate Kennedy, 49th; Tyler Chapman, 55th; and Kolby Poteet, 61st.
Also finishing for Campbell County were Daniel Peach, 64th; Chase Lindsay, 80th; Garrett Reese, 112th; Eli Caudill, 119th; Kelly McKamey, 124th; Gabe Bowling, 126th; and Jacob Owens, 137th.
Two days later, both CCHS teams were in action at a meet hosted by Johnson Bible College.
The Lady Cougars took second place after finishing 21 points behind a talented Hardin Valley team.
Lauren Evans placed fourth overall, followed by Childress, 7th; Jones, 16th; Lindsay Evans, 21st; Camille Reynolds, 29th; Moore, 34th; and Miller, 45th.
Campbell County’s boys impressed their coach by placing fifth in a field of 20 complete and half a dozen incomplete teams.
Deavours was 16th overall, followed by Nelson, 42nd; Poteet, 55th; Peach, 57th; Lindsay, 62nd; Kennedy, 74th; and Chapman, 86th.
“It was the first time this season I’ve been pleased with our boys,” said Pierce.
“I chewed them out the day before yesterday and told them it’s time they started running like they’re capable of. They stepped up.”
The race at Johnson Bible College was Campbell County’s third in a span of six days. The Cougars are going to Melton Hill Park today (Thurs.) for a 5:30 p.m. meet.
“It’s not much different than practice. You’re going to work out either way,” said Pierce of his team’s hectic race schedule.