The first races start at 8:30 a.m. in the combined elementary school races. The varsity races begin in the late morning with the girls going first at 10 a.m. and the boys to follow at 10:45.
The following are the projections based on the virtual meet from www.tn.milesplit.com.
Defending meet champion Dobyns-Bennett returns to Gray with high aspirations for the postseason. The Lady Indians have been on a roll all season and look to continue doing it Saturday on the hilly course.
Course record holder and two-time defending state champion Sasha Neglia comes into the meet having run a blistering 17:18, her personal best in the 5K last week at the Jesse Owens Classic in Oakville, Alabama. That time puts her at No. 23 in the nation for high school girls this season.
The junior ran 18:18 at the Trailblazer course and then followed it up two weeks later at the Region 1-AAA championships with a 17:47, becoming the only girl to break 18:00 on the historic course.
In the virtual meet — based on season bests — the Tribe is expected to run away from the field that includes teams like Myers Park (N.C.), David Crockett and host Boone. University High will also look to mix it up as the Junior Bucs are having a strong season.
However, if the meet is done by average time, it is much closer as the Lady Indians only win by six points over Boone.
The Lady ’Blazers have been steadily improving throughout the season and ran well last week at Jesse Owens with several personal and season bests.
“It’s always good for the kids to get in a race on the course before the region meet,” Boone head coach Len Jeffers said. “I can’t say enough about the seniors on this girls team. They’ve been together from the beginning as freshman and have come a long ways from where they started. It will be fun to see what they can do in the upcoming races.”
Others to watch are Crockett’s Taylor Roy and Jefferson County freshman Julianne Dodson.
According to meet entries, Science Hill is not bringing either the varsity boys or girls to the meet on Saturday.
Myers Park is back again this year after upsetting the home-standing Trailblazers last year. The Mustangs are looking to do it again, although the top two finishers in last year’s race have graduated.
Polk County (N.C.) runner Caleb Potter comes in with the year’s best time at 16:32. However, Boone’s Chance Bowman is nipping at his heels, running a 16:36 at the Cherokee Classic nearly a month ago.
Boone is projected to win the meet, but it is not by much as Myers Park trails by just nine points.
A steadily improving Morristown West team comes in with aspirations of reaching the postseason as well.
The Trojans haven’t made it to the state meet in a while and are looking to make a statement to the rest of the region come Saturday.
“The boys race will be interesting,” Jeffers said. “It’s basically a region preview minus Science Hill with five teams within 40 or 50 points fighting for three spots. Anything can happen on race day. It’s always great to run against some state teams that you haven’t seen because it lets us know how we stand and what we can do two weeks later.”
The highest returning finisher to this year’s race is Boone’s Matt Huff, who took third-place last year. The senior and junior teammate Mason Lewis will look to continue strong seasons after running bests last week in Alabama.
Others to keep an eye on are Cherokee’s Austin Kirkpatrick, Dobyns-Bennett’s Tyler Mays and Porter Bradley of University High.
All have had strong seasons filled with wins and breakout performances at the bigger local meets.