published Friday, October 25th, 2013

Ooltewah Owls join Crossville teams in state meet

DAYTON, Tenn. — Qualifying for the state meet was enough to earn the Ooltewah boys' cross country team a trip to Lupi's Thursday afternoon. Was it not?

"I would have still fed them, but it would have been something like Little Caesar's," coach Jason Hamrick said with a laugh.

Led by senior Garrett Flores' third-place finish, the Owls placed third in the Region 3-AAA meet Thursday at Fort Bluff, qualifying for the TSSAA state championships at Percy Warner Park in Nashville on Nov. 2.

Cookeville swept the region titles, but Crossville also had an excellent showing. Cumberland County was second in both races, and Stone Memorial was third in the girls' scores.

"We knew it would be close between us and Soddy-Daisy, but we expected to do well," Hamrick said. "None of these guys have run at state, but we have a young core that might be able to start something for the future."

Bradley Central's Harold Smith was the boys' individual winner for the second year in a row, after runner-up finishes as a freshman and a sophomore, and Bears teammate Collin Gwaltney joined him in the top 10.

"I didn't want to take it out too fast today. I wanted to run more like the race I had at Baylor last week," Smith said. "I was able to come back with a better time than when I was here during the league, and I definitely did that.

"I hope I can do the same at state next week."

Smith was 14th in last season's AAA state meet.

Along with Smith and Gwaltney and the Ooltewah boys' team, Soddy-Daisy's Joe Kirk and Rhea County's Bryson Bayles qualified for the state meet with top-10 finishes. Rhea's Gloria Pascual and Soddy-Daisy's Chloe Nance earned trips as well.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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