HENDERSONVILLE — There’s a youth movement within the Webb Lady Feet cross country team.
Made entirely of freshmen and eighth-graders, Webb not only qualified as a team for the Division II Class A state meet at Sanders Ferry Park over the weekend, but saw No. 1 runner Abby Faith Cheeseman win the individual state title with the fastest girls time in the state competitions of any classification.
“Abby Faith is pretty special. As a coach, I have never taken for granted the difficulty of racing. Racing is standing on the precipice of failure and success. I know that she will give her best no matter what the circumstances are. That, to me, is pretty special. She is gritty, works very hard, and thus far, enjoys the process of getting better. Her joy comes from being her best more than the competition itself. However, she enjoys racing and testing herself too,” Webb cross country coach Cathy Cheeseman said.
Abby Faith Cheeseman crossed the finish line in 17:26. 91, besting second-place finisher Lauren Rutlin, of St. George’s Independent by 1:32.
In fact, Cheeseman’s state championship time was faster than Class A-AA champion Samantha Ouellette’s 18:31, Class AAA champion Kyra Hayes’ 18:05 and Div. II Class AA champion Bella Guillamondegui’s 18:22.
Cheeseman’s top time in the state was key in helping lead the Lady Feet to a fourth-place team finish in the team standings.
St. George’s Independent won the team competition with a total of 46 points, but second-fifth place was separated by a razor thin margin.
University School of Nashville finished second with 83 points, while Westminster Academy took third overall with 84 points.
The Webb School finished just behind in fourth with a total of 85 points, which was good enough to beat fifth-place finisher Columbia Academy by five points.
While the day belonged to Cheeseman, Webb also saw Sophie McInturff medal with a fifth-place finish in 19:53.
Makenzi Haile took 23rd overall in 21:53, while Sydney Davenport took 36th in 22:38.
The Lady Feet finished the day with Olivia Dugdale turning in a 24:17 time to finish 50th while Neva Redman finished her season with a 27:57 final time.
“I am excited that our team was able to not only qualify for state by a mere 1 point, but also perform well at the TSSAA State Championship and earn a 4th place finish! When we learned that we were only 2 points out of second place, that was a little tough for us to realize just how close we were to a top finish. However, as we often discuss as a team, when you step onto the course and into the proverbial arena and give it all you have, you can walk away satisfied with your effort. It leaves you with the positive desire to take the next step of improvement. I think the biggest reason why these girls were able to succeed is because they trusted the process and they were supported by their parents in that process. Furthermore, the girls truly cared about each other,” Cheeseman said.
While an individual title is nothing to rest their laurels on, the team has its sights set even higher for next season.
“Of course, we would love to bring Webb's first state team title home to our school. In order for that to happen we will need to continue to build the program. Last year we had three high school girls participating in cross country. This year we had nine girls, but we also had a couple of injuries that set us back. My hope is to grow to 15 to 20 girls over the next few years by helping people understand the beauty that is the sport of cross-country,” Cheeseman added.
While Webb’s showing in the Division II Class A race was certainly a highlight of the day for Bedford County runners, Cascade High School was also represented in the boys and girls Class A-AA races as well.
Two weeks ago, Sophie Ray and Steve Cope punched their tickets to the state meet and among the day’s biggest field of runners, saw some stellar times turned in as well.
In the Girls A-AA race, Ray finished her season with a 103rd place finish in 23:15 to conclude her freshman season.
Cope concludes what’s been an outstanding career with a strong showing during his final race for Cascade.
He finished 124th overall in 19:15.
Div. II Class A Girls
1. Abby Faith Cheeseman 17:26
5. Sophie McInturff 19:53
23. Makenzi Haile 21:53
36. Sydney Davenport 22:38
50. Olivia Dugdale 24:17
70. Neva Redman 27:57
Class A-AA Girls
103. Sophie Ray 23:15
Class A-AA Boys
124. Steve Cope 19:15