Just keep your eye on the runner in front of the pack.
Foster and senior teammate Kayla Kuziola posted a 1-2 finish to lead the defending state champion Lady Hilltoppers to victory in the short-course cross country scrimmage, which attracted nine girls squads and 11 boys teams.
“I just felt like going all out and keeping the pace,” said Foster, the Big 9 Conference 3,200 champion as an eighth-grader this past spring. “It was fun.”
Foster clocked a 12:23.74 on the Twilight course at Boone, which was actually 1.95 miles. Kuziola, a senior, was right behind Foster at 12:26.88.
Already in tune for the standard 5K cross country course, Foster admitted that the timing was tricky.
“I went too soon, I should’ve gone further,” she said.
“(Foster) did race with the high school girls as an eighth-grader, so she has some experience. But she is really young,” said Science Hill coach Jennifer Brockett.
“She’s pretty effortless with it. She does have to work hard. The good thing is that she’s got Kayla, who’s really healthy, guiding her through with workouts and being smart about her training.”
Samantha Gosey finished sixth (13:03.89) for the Lady ’Toppers, who had 30 points. Martha McCoy was eighth (13:18.32) and Chelsea Parker 15th (14:08.48).
Team-wise, Dobyns-Bennett was only one point behind Science Hill. The Lady Indians filled out the top five with Kendra Sokol (12:49.33), Ellen Ehrenfried (12:49.89) and Olivia Loveless (12:58.90) coming in third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
“We’re making progress. I’m pleased,” said D-B coach Bob Bingham. “We’re obviously pretty good in girls right now and Science Hill is obviously very good. Foster is extremely talented and Kuziola has shown up in really good shape. She usually races herself into shape.”
The Lady Indians’ depth was evident at ninth through 13th places as Laura Loveless, Amanda Loughlin. Molly Norris, Molly Smith and McKaylah Darnell locked up those spots.
Greeneville’s Ashley Ellenburg finished seventh while Sullivan Central’s Leslie Ecklund took 14th.
Greeneville junior Dylan Jones won the boys’ meet, clocking a 10:37.05. Daniel Boone’s Andrew Price was second at 10:37.63 while D-B’s Chris McElroy came in third at 10:46.07. David Crockett’s Sean Duffy finished fourth with 10:48.30.
“I just tried my hardest and just kicked it at the end,” said Jones, who thought the intensity of the 2-mile race more than compensated for the brevity of the course.
“It was just as hard as the longer format. You have to run it harder.”
For all of Jones’ finish-line heroics, the Greene Devils (76 points) settled for a second in the team standings — 41 points shy of team champ D-B (35).
Adam Chase (11:02.00) and Neil Brown (11:07.08) complemented McElroy at fifth and sixth, respectively. Indians harriers were conspicuous at the top of the field— Mike Donellan and Alec Murphy at 10th and 11th, respectively, Brandon Ward 13th, Kelly Norris 15th and Alex Dayton 16th.
“My gosh, we’ve got a lot of depth,” Bingham said. “After my first three runners going down to 10, it’s going to be a revolving door each meet to see who’s going to be in the top seven. That’s a good thing because competition makes you better.”
Boone’s Christopher Boardwine was seventh, followed by Tennessee High’s Andre Blow and Greeneville’s Derek Gibson.