By Kris Freeman for White House High School
HENDERSONVILLE – The White House High School cross country team is preparing for its biggest meet of the season on Friday when eight runners advance to the TSSAA State Tournament Meet at Sanders Ferry Park.
The entire girls team will compete in the state meet after finishing fourth in the Region meet last week. All six girls will run at 1:20 p.m. in the girls Class A-AA meet. White House will be competing for team, and individual results in the same race. Runners Emily Tiepelman, Hannah Barnes, Ellie Essary, Kerra Marsh, Ashtine Hooper and Ella Hunt will be on the line for the Blue Devils.
Two White House boys finished 7th and 8th respectively in the Region meet and will compete as individuals in the boys Class A-AA race at 2:10 p.m. with Logan Chudzik and Adan Salazar representing the Blue Devils. White House will compete as individuals only in the boys race and not factor in team results.
The White House girls posted a slate of personal bests for the season by several runners, including Tiepelman who was an individual medalist and the top finisher from White House.
“Emily has been consistently producing all year long at a high level and continuing to produce as maybe the most improved runner on the team from last year to this year,” White House head coach Gary Marsh said. “The girls as a whole just really ran well in tough conditions and made it our best day of the year.”
One of the top teams in the state competes in the same region with White House, with Hume Fogg taking the top spot last week. The same squad will be there again tomorrow when about 250 runners in each race are combined.
“When you look at our class, our girls are considered a top 15 program and we get to see what some of the best teams in the state look like around us,” Marsh added. “My outlook is when you enter a race like this, you never know what others runners or programs are going to do. Other programs have injuries or circumstances that we cannot control so we have to show up, run our best race and compete.”
The course is wrapped around Sanders Ferry Park adjacent to the lake, and no stranger to the team. White House runs many of its county, region and local meets at the grass and dirt track in the rural peninsula outside Hendersonville.
Last week, the course was modified due to heavy rain from a longer trek to three one mile laps for the region event. Friday, the race will be much more dry and on a flatter surface with tramped down traction, after the Class AAA meet was held on Thursday and the Division II meets on Friday morning.
“The biggest obstacle this week is how hard the dirt is,” Coach Marsh said. “You had competition today and races tomorrow and the grass is really packed and you will have faster times because of that. The weather is ideal and you could not ask for a better situation to run in, but the harder and muddier areas from last week will be compacted dirt and trampled without much grass and really speed things up.”
Nevertheless, even in the conditions last week, White House ran perhaps its best race of the season. For the boys, it was a heartbreaking finish of 5th place, just seven points behind the spot that would have put the whole team in action on Friday like the girls.
Nevertheless, Chudzik and Salazar were side by side almost from start to finish, with Salazar leading slightly throughout the race and then Chudzik making a dash to edge him for 7th at the end.
“The side by side was coincidental, but Logan has been consistent all year and even led the Sumner County race early at Sanders Ferry Park,” Marsh explained. “Both of them ran a great race and I think it was just sheer competitiveness of Adan to be determined he was staying with him and even led him most of the race. What they did is the same thing I see in practice and it’s not abnormal, but certainly came together in the right time in that race.”
Five runners in the region ran sub-20 minute times and the squad nearly made the big jump to state.
“The guys just all peaked at the right time,” Marsh said. “In a race that big, seven points could be a matter of a couple of guys being able to make a move or pass. That’s our best average all year and I was really proud of them.
“The amazing thing about our boys finish is that it was heartbreaking that we didn’t qualify, but that effort pushed our two individual qualifiers to the state,” he continued. “After the four teams qualify, they only took five additional runners as individuals and we had two of those spots. That’s amazing.”
The TSSAA recently made the move to Sanders Ferry for the state meet which was previously held at the Steeplechase course.
Girls Region Championships:
Boys Region Championships:
White House last sent a runner to the state meet in 2016 when Jim Headrick represented the boys team and placed 37th.
The last and only girls entry was Bailey Balgemann in 2012, finishing 20th.
The White House boys team won the region in 2000 and sent six runners to the state meet, with Derrick Payne finishing 36th. The team overall finished 14th. In 1999, Payne was 26th and the team finished 18th.
Chris Tracy was the only three-time state competitor. He finished 86th in 1998, 46th in 1999 and 40th in 2000. The first year was as an individual and the last two as part of the team.
The first boys state team in 1997 finished 16th and was led by Andy Hayes with a 31st place finish.
Justin Garrett competed in back to back events in 1997 and 1998, qualifying the first year on the team and second year as an individual.
White House established the cross country program in 1995 and for many years was coached by Cindy Towers.
COACH: CINDY TOWERS
1995-1996 First cross country team season
1997-1998 BOYS – STATE MEET – TEAM 16th/22
31 – Andy Hayes 17:32
102 – Justin Garrett 19:02
105 – Danny Steman 19:11
134 – Joey Berry 20:15
136 – Blake Gibbs 20:18
1998-1999 BOYS – STATE MEET – INDIVIDUAL
86 – Chris Tracey 18:28
106 – Justin Garrett 19:01
1999-2000 BOYS – STATE MEET – TEAM – 18th/24
26 – Derrick Payne 17:24
46 Chris Tracy 17:57
137 Josh Morgan 20:47
150 Ronnie Baldwin 21:35
160 Adam York 22:40
2000-2001 BOYS – REGION CHAMPS
BOYS – STATE MEET – TEAM – 14th/23
36 Derrick Payne 17:31
40 Chris Tracy 17:39
117 Larry Butterworth 19:12
132 Adam York 19:37
137 Matthew Bayliss 19:49
145 Kenny Pospisil 20:40
161 Jeb Coe 22:00
2016-2017 BOYS – STATE MEET – INDIVIDUAL
37 Jim Headrick 17:46.15
2012 GIRLS – STATE MEET – INDIVIDUAL 20 Bailey Balgemann 22:17.87