By Dan McWilliams
Fourth-grade cross country runner Keegan Smith of Sacred Heart Cathedral School repeated as state champion Oct. 22 and captured his second national championship Nov. 19.
Keegan, who also won this year’s AAU indoor track-and-field national title in March, placed first in the nation among 10-year-olds with a 3K time of 10 minutes, 36.27 seconds, in the 2016 Cross Country Coaches National Youth Championships at Angel Mounds State Park in Evansville, Ind. Keegan won by a margin of 16.28 seconds over the second-place finisher in a field of 154 runners.
Keegan completed the 1-mile course at Knoxville’s Victor Ashe Park in 5:22.33 to win the Tennessee state elementary championship by a margin of 8.60 seconds over runner-up Eli Vickers of Sequoyah Elementary. Joshua Palacios of St. Mary in Oak Ridge placed 73rd. Ben Hebert of St. John Neumann recorded the 117th best time. There were 299 runners in the field.
Keegan and the top runners from Knoxville Catholic High School competed in the Foot Locker Cross Country South Regional Championships on Nov. 26 in Charlotte, N.C.
Fifth-grader MaeMae Powe of St. Jude School in Chattanooga placed second in the girls elementary state championships with a time of 5:51.54 at Victor Ashe Park, missing out on the title by less than 3 seconds. MaeMae competed against a field of 284 runners that also included Elizabeth Wolski of Sacred Heart in 34th place and Lauren Prince of Sacred Heart in 110th.
Eighth-grader Riley Smith, Keegan’s older brother, finished 14th in the middle school state championships at Victor Ashe with a 2-mile time of 11 minutes, 50.35 seconds. Riley, who also made the all-state team, competed in a field of 325 runners. Andy Nored of Sacred Heart was 127th and teammate Connor Brunson 243rd.
In other action, Knoxville Catholic High School runners placed well in the Hoka One One Postal Nationals Super Local meet at Hardin Valley Academy on Nov. 19. Georde Goodwyn of KCHS finished second in a time of 9:19.62 in a 3,200-meter run. Teammate Devin Sullivan placed 13th in a time of 9:57.11 in a field of 86 runners.
Callie Tucker of Knoxville Catholic scored a sixth-place finish in the Hoka One One event with a time of 11:14.36 in the 3,200. Lady Irish teammate Shila Kapaya was not far behind in eighth place with a time of 11:32.83 in a field of 43 runners. ■