ACHS cross country getting by with a little help from its friends

Community and administration support carrying Mav runners to a heady start

  • Mavericks cross-country runner Vance Laster finished the Norris Dam Invitational 5,000-meter race with a time of 16:50.25 and eighth place overall. - Tony Cox

  • Senior runner Kaitlyn Fisher gives a thumbs up as she passes the halfway mark during Saturdays home cross country meet. She completed the course with a time of 21:34.46 and 36th overall. - Tony Cox

Anderson County High School cross country Coach Derek Wallace is enjoying both his teams’ enjoy successes during the early stages of the 2023 season.

But the coach knows that success doesn’t happen without two things — dedication from his runners and support from the community and from the ACHS administration.

“We have unbelievable support from our administration and our community,” Wallace said after both the Mavericks and the Lady Mavericks posted some stellar performances at the Norris Lake Invitational Saturday on the 5K Songbird Trail.

“(ACHS Principal Ben) Downs gave me fourth block with the cross country runners, and I’ve never had that before,” Wallace said. “That gives us extra time in addition to what we do after school. We do yoga every Wednesday, and without the extra time, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Clinton Physical Therapy assists with the yoga instruction, and Wallace said that his athletes are now incorporating the yoga in their pre-race stretching routines. He also noted that Downs, Athletic Director Gary Terry, and Assistant Principal Jenny Irwin have been in attendance at the teams’ meets this season.

And the Mavs and Lady Mavs have dedicated themselves to running this season. The Anderson County girls have been successful at the state level for quite some time, while the boys are rapidly achieving similar success this season.

“Our boys have made a big jump this season and it all started with the work that they put in over the summer,” Wallace said. “I had eight runners finish in under 20 minutes, and I usually want to see five or six do that.

“This season, we have depth like we haven’t had before,” he said. “I had several runners set (personal) records on Saturday.”

Last weekend, the Mavericks had four competitors crack the Top 20 at the meet.

Junior Vance Laster finished eighth as he crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 50.25 seconds. Ben Clotfelder came in 12th as he posted a time of 17:20.97. Freshman Cameron Hardy claimed 13th (17:28.56), while fellow rookie John Cutler came in 20th (17:47.52).

Senior Ryan Basford (69th place), junior Ethan Bolton (85th), and sophomores Toby Day (90th), Franklin Downs (a transfer from Oak Ridge), and Matthew Mattson also finished in under 21 minutes, along with freshman Darren Anderson. Day finished in 90th place. Downs was 97th. Mattson claimed 115th, and Anderson finished in the 132nd spot.

For the Lady Mavericks, Ava Moody finished sixth with 18 minutes, 54.73 seconds. Kaitlyn Fisher finished 36th (21:34.46). Emily Boring was 58th (23:13.17).Marley Caldwell crossed the finish line in 65th as she clocked in at 23:43.67. Morgan Lindsay finished 104th (26:00.24). Emma Johnson (30:13.62) came in 146th, and Anna Gross was 155th with a time of 31:53.08.

The Mavericks and Lady Mavericks are idle this week. They will return to action Sept. 23 at the Cherokee Classic in Knoxville’s Sequoyah Hills Community.