TEAM

The Jackson County girls' cross country team huddles together before the Class AAA state girls' race. The team placed 11th. 

The Jackson County girls’ cross country team had hoped for a top-10 finish at state and finished just outside of that with an 11th-place showing at state Saturday in Carrollton. Coach Brittley Blount was ecstatic nevertheless.

“Our girls’ team proved everyone wrong, including myself,” Blount said. “I honestly didn't know what to expect after graduating key runners and leadership last year. Towards the middle of the season, I realized this was more than just a rebuilding year for them.”

Tiffany Holly led Jackson County at state with a 54th-place finish (23:22.04). Contributing the Panthers’ collective team score of 315 points were Melina Cuesta (60th, 23:40.53), Joy Ellis (62nd, 23:44.10), Annie Kate Riley (64th, 23:47.49) and Reagan Bewley (91st, 24:54.03).

Blout said the team demonstrated an ability throughout the year to run in a tight pack and score points, which ultimately led to a region runner-up finish and the 11th-place showing at state.

“We didn't break into the top 10 at state, but my coaching staff and I walked away beaming,” she said. “They battled hard and our average time was only 15 seconds slower than last year. The competition was just stronger this time around. We're returning our whole squad next season and that's exciting to say the least.”

Blount also said she was “immensely proud” of what both the boys’ and girls’ teams accomplished this season. The coach said the program achieved a goal of building a tight-knit group of runners setting personal-best times.

“So much of that goal had to happen organically, and it didn't happen right away,” she said. “However, the momentum was powerful once it did. Personal records were continually broken and runners that started on JV found their way to our top seven. We achieved our goal this season, and we achieved success.”

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