NASHVILLE When the White House Heritage girls cross country team began the season coach Kevin Doty didn’t know what to expect from his team.
Doty doesn’t have any seniors, and if the Lady Patriots were going to make their fourth straight appearance in the state tournament they were going to have to depend heavily on their younger runners.
That’s exactly what happened with a pair of freshmen and an eighth grader finishing in the top 22.
However, it was junior Samantha Church’s first place finish that helped propel the Lady Patriots to a second place finish in the region championships, just points behind Hume Fogg.
Here are the five things that led to Heritage’s success at Steeplechase on Thursday afternoon.
1 – Junior Samantha Church put her team on her back. Church’s first place finish was a first for Heritage too. No runner, male or female, had ever won the region final in school history.
2 – Freshman Mackenzie Bennett finished just behind Church in seventh and fellow junior Madeline Segars was 12th. Eighth grader Ella Griffin finished 18th and freshman Allyah Bledsoe was 22nd. Having five girls that almost finished in the top 20 nearly gave Heritage its first ever region title.
3 – Heritage’s success is largely due to the fact that the Lady Patriots have their own cross country track at school according to Doty. “Having a track that is in the same condition as what we ran on today was huge for us,” Doty said. “Most runners say they’re sore and exhausted when they finish, but because we run on the same kind of surface as what we ran on today our runners are still in good shape.”
4 – Team might be young, but they still had plenty of experience. Both juniors and freshmen were on last year’s team, a team that made its third straight appearance at the state meet.
5 – Doty tries to make sure his girls are able to train year round. “Our girls also run track and I give them an offseason work schedule they can follow in the summer,” Doty said. “We’ve told them that it’s the work they do in the summer that will decide what type of season we have the next year and fortunately for us, they’ve all bought in.”