There were quite a few things working against the Munford High Schoool girls’ cross country team this season.
Averie Yeager, a 2020 state qualifier, missed the entire season with a leg injury. Three different runners missed portions of the season because of COVID-19 issues and Hannah Callahan was still recovering from an illness when the region meet rolled around on Oct. 27 in Troy.
Despite all that, the Lady Cougars finished second in Troy to qualify for the Division I, Class A-AA state meet, which will be held Friday in Hendersonville.
Longtime Munford cross country coach Thomas Walters called it one of the most successful seasons in school history. Munford finished first or second in eight of nine regular season meets.
“I felt pretty confident going into the season that we could qualify for the state meet,” said Walters. “And after everything we went through, these girls proved they were not just good runners, but they were tough.”
The Lady Cougars had a new look this year with 10 new runners, including eight freshmen. In fact, senior Ionna Dunlap is the only girl remaining from the squad that qualified for the 2019 state meet. Of the seven varsity girls, Dunlap was the only runner returning from last year’s squad.
“When we were struggling early with illnesses and injuries they just stepped up and kept competing,” Walters said. “These girls might be young, but they are tough, tough competitors. They don’t get intimidated and they hate losing.”
Callahan took seventh at the region meet to lead Munford. She was followed by Kaelyn Coker (eighth), Emily Bey (10th), Dunlap (14th), Cara Bruce (17th), Kylie Porter (41st) and Lizzy Westerfield (45th).
It will be the second time in school history that the girls team has qualified for the state championship.
In the boys’ race, Munford’s Ryan Coley took sixth qualify for state for the second straight season. He is the first male runner from Munford to qualify twice. In nine races this season, Coley finished top three in seven of them, including four first-place finishes and the school record of 16:20.65.
“He sets a pretty high standard for himself and is just relentless in his training,” said Walters. “He wants to run at the college level and he understands the commitment that is required for success.”
San’Darius Coleman will represent Covington at the state meet after taking eighth place at the region meet. Other boys competing for Covington at the region meet were Dalton Travis (20th), Jaylen Denmark, Caden Owen, Camron Hall and Conner Leland. The boys finished finished fifth in the team competition.
Covington’s Kinley Carver led her team with a time of 24:36. She was followed by teammates Eva Turner, Anna Reese Cousar and Madie Rose.