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Rebels’ Johnson captures second win in three days at Raider Run, but Wise Central sweeps team titles

By STEVE WILMOTH TriCitiesSports.com • Sep 15, 2017 at 12:55 AM

KINGSPORT — Sullivan South senior Zach Johnson won his first career cross country race on Tuesday at Panther Creek in Morristown.

On Thursday, Johnson made it two wins in three days at the Raider Run on the elongated course at Sullivan North High School with a time of 18:43.21.

“I was a little mad at myself with that time there for a little bit. Then I realized the course was a little longer,” said Johnson, who figures he logged about 3.5 miles instead of the normal 3.1.

Johnson, who also ran in both the 10K and two-mile events at the Eastman Road Race last Saturday, took command very early in the race and won by a comfortable 15-second margin over Andrew Deel from Wise Central.

“I was pretty tired today, my fourth race in a week,” added Johnson.

The Warriors took home first place in the team competition, giving Wise Central a sweep on the day, as the Lady Warriors were also victorious.

“We’ve got a lot of young kids out this year. We are basically a new team,” said Wise Central coach Brian Mills. “We’ve got a lot of depth, and the kids have been working hard in practice. I’ve got three strong girls up front, and we’re getting the rest to fill in. My fifth ran her best all season.”

Lady Warriors junior Carlee Salyers (23:38.72) came from third place in the final third of the race to take home the girls individual championship, ahead of runner-up Rachel Michalik (23:41.61) of Volunteer and teammate Kristen Maggard (24:06.59).

“I saw my teammate (Maggard) and thought I could catch her. Then I noticed the other girl (Michalik) was about the same distance, so I just tried to pick and catch her as well,” said Salyers. “It was really good competition today. I didn’t go out thinking that I’d be able to win it, so I’m kind of shocked that I did.”

Wise Central’s Lauren Mulkey (25:30.93) and Carlie Yeary (27:58.06) added fifth and ninth place finishes while Hope Collins (28:43.63) was 14th to complete the team scoring of 26 points for the Lady Warriors.

“We are a young team,” added Salyers. “We had four girls coming back, and the rest are all freshmen. We needed them to come in and push up to our fourth girl, and they are doing that right now.”

In the boys race, the Warriors logged a fourth place from Austin Yeary (20:25.80), a 15th place from Sam Houston (21:33.46) and a 16th place from Luke Hubbard (21:36.85) in compiling 52 team points.

Volunteer finished as the runner-up in both races. In addition to Michalik, the Lady Falcons went 7-8 with Sara Burnette (27:25.18) and Bailey Ferguson (27:47.84) to finish with 41 points.

“I thought our girls ran very well,” said Volunteer coach Jim Ailshie. “Last year we didn’t even have enough for a team. Now we came in second place in the Raider Run, and I’m really excited and couldn’t be happier for them.”

After winning the Becky Selfe Invitational in Abingdon last Saturday, the Falcons boys were dealt a setback just prior to the Raider Run.

“I found out today my fifth man has a stress fracture, and he was right there with the other four,” noted Ailshie. “That was kind of a letdown, but he’ll be back for track season.”

Still, the Falcons garnered a fifth place from Brayden Ragsdale (20:33.75), eighth from Matthew Stanley (21:11.23), 11th from Daniel Greene (21:13.91) and 14th from Leyton Patrick (21:25.26) to finish with 55 points, just three off the pace of Wise Central.

The Falcons victory last Saturday also marked a remarkable turnaround for the Volunteer program that finished 16th out of 16 teams in the same event last year.

“We had five in the top 20 and there were 13 teams, and one year later we win the meet,” continued Ailshie. “It was a great accomplishment for the kids, for the school and for the community.”

Paced by Maci Griswold’s sixth place finish (27:17.99), the Lady Cougars of Sullivan Central placed third while Sullivan South was third in the boys race thanks to Johnson and Daniel Lewis (21:12.34), who crossed in ninth.

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