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Wildcat cross country teams carry a championship tradition

Dating back to the 1970s, ORHS has held high standards

  • Oak Ridge High School senior Jack Biewer signed with Rhodes College in Memphis earlier in December. - Tony Cox

  • Dylan Job, a freshman, holds the girls all-time best time in the mile at ORHS with a mark of 5:22.26. - Tony Cox

The Oak Ridge High School boys and girls cross country and track and field programs are rich in tradition.

Coach Ed Wright guided the boys cross country team to a Top 10 finish at the recent 2022 Class AAA state championships in Hendersonville. The Wildcats came in ninth on the state’s grand stage. The Lady Wildcats finished 15th at the state championships, continuing the school’s rich tradition in distance running.

The proud cross country and track and field tradition at the school goes back to the late 1970s and Coach Jim McNamee.

McNamee, a 1999 inductee to the Oak Ridge High School Hall of Fame, coached cross country for the Wildcats and Lady Wildcats from 1978-2004 and was the school’s head track and field coach from 1978-2004.

During McNamee’s historic tenure at ORHS, he guided the boys cross country team to five state championships and three runner-up finishes. He also led the Lady Wildcats to three state titles. Under his mentorship, the Lady Wildcats were state runners-up seven times.

He won eight region championships with the boys and claimed seven with the girls.

He was the regional Coach of the Year 15 times and named Southern Coach of the Year three times.

In track and field, he guided the Lady Wildcats track team to a state championship in 1982, the first championship for the Lady Wildcats in any sport.

McNamee also guided the Lady Wildcats track team to six region titles and six district championships.

He guided the boys track team to six region crowns and six district titles.

Following McNamee’s retirement, Allen Etheridge (a current assistant athletic director and English teacher at ORHS) took the reins for the cross country programs.

He coached the boys and girls to six combined state championships.

The Lady Wildcats won state titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Under Etheridge’s guidance, the boys won consecutive state titles from 2005-07.