Barnard wins Southeast regional
By Jeff Keeling
Photos by Eric Roth
Daniel Boone High School’s cross country team is headed to the Nike Cross National cross country championships this Saturday in Portland, Ore. after placing second at the Southeast regional last Saturday in Cary, N.C.
The top two teams qualified for nationals, and Boone, the Tennessee state champions, nipped Lake Braddock (Va.) by one point and Tennessee runner-up Brentwood by two. Boone’s top runner, Adam Barnard, won the individual championship, while fellow senior and number two James Garst was 20th – less than a second ahead of Lake Braddock’s Colin Schaefer.
Barnard clocked a 14:44 to finish 12 seconds ahead of the individual runner-up.
“We thought he had a shot at winning,” Boone coach Len Jeffers said of Barnard. “ We knew there were three, four, five guys that were really tough. But by watching him over the last couple weeks, the way he looked we thought he would be tough to beat.”
Garst ran a 15:33.7 to a 15:34.3 by Schaefer. High school teams run 5,000 meters (3.1 miles), so Barnard was running a 4:44 mile pace in the personal-best effort.
That 0.6-second difference was one of many elements that, had it come out differently, would have had Boone on the outside looking in after what Jeffers said was one of the closest finishes he’s ever seen.
George Watts, an East Tennessee State University coach, was stationed 600 meters from the finish counting places. Jeffers said between there and the finish, all the runners but Barnard, who was leading, “passed at least one person going up the hill to the finish line.”
“We knew that Braddock had three or four guys up there, but we had other coaches telling us that their fifth guy was back a little further, which gave us hope.”
In fact, while Braddock’s top four finishers had them 24 points ahead of Boone, Boone junior Mitch Bronstetter finished 25 spots ahead of Braddock’s fifth. That differential, Garst’s close victory over Schaefer and multiple other scenarios helped things fall Boone’s way. Officials announced the near-tie among three teams shortly after the finish, but didn’t say who finished where until the awards ceremony.
“We were hoping we were in that mix and were going to be the team that came out a point ahead,” Jeffers said.
The meet drew the best teams from 11 states for the chance at a paid trip to Portland to compete against the nation’s best. Other scoring runners for Boone’s “Washington County Ridge Runners” team were junior Josh Routh (31st, 15:43); sophomore Ben Varghese (46th, 15:52); and Bronstetter (100th, 16:17). Varsity runners Zac Branham (17:05) and Nick Roth (17:40) also competed.
After what he saw last Saturday, Jeffers expects Barnard to contend for a first-team (top 7) nationals finish. The team will be up against the best cross country teams from across the U.S., but is peaking at the right time, Jeffers added.
“I think everybody’s coming around at the right time,” Jeffers said. “And the time Adam ran Saturday is the fourth-best time in the nation this year, so I think he has a shot at being named an All-American Saturday (either Top 10 or Top 15).
The team left for Portland Wednesday and returns Sunday. The race at the Glendoveer Golf Course begins at 2:35 Eastern time and results and a live stream will be available at runnerspace.com/nxn.