Warren County Middle School runners were like a bolt of lightning Saturday at the Pioneer Invitational, a cross country race on the WCMS campus.
WCMS runners blazed their way to first-place finishes in both boys and girls middle school competition.
Lady Pioneer Abby Bundy finished the 2-mile course in 14:46, which was 3 second ahead of Kylie Howse of Stewarts Creek in second.
In boys competition, Pioneer Isaac Stefanick called his shot.
After watching Bundy finish first, he correctly predicted it would be a WCMS sweep and he would win the boys race.
Stefanick wasn’t just talk. He showed an impressive burst of speed in his stretch run, crossing the finish line in a blur in 13:15. That was 7 seconds ahead of Kiran Malde of St. Andrew’s Sewanee in second place.
WCMS cross country coach and event organizer Patty Kelly was ecstatic to see runners from both of her teams win their races. The course featured gravel, asphalt, grass, and even a wooden bridge as terrain.
“Every year the competition seems to get stronger, but when you have the drive to get better like they do it helps set you apart,” said coach Kelly referring to Bundy and Stefanick. “It also helps they come from families of runners. I’ve coached their siblings. It’s one thing to have me pushing them here at school, but when you get family members pushing them at home that helps them take it to the next level.”
Toward the end of the 2-mile race, several runners began to look tired. However, both WCMS winners were able to finish strong, which coach Kelly attributes to their training routine.
“We’ve been practicing bursts at the end,” said Kelly. “It’s new training I started with them this year. We started working on bursts and lately we’ve been working on our endurance.”
When informed about Stefanick’s pre-race prediction that he would win, coach Kelly said she’s been working to develop that mindset.
“I love to hear that,” said Kelly. “It’s his confidence manifesting. I tell them to stay positive. You accomplish what you believe you can do. That’s something that will help them in life, not just in running.”
In addition to Stefanick, Pioneer Campbell Sutton ran a strong race and stayed among the leaders from the start. He finished sixth.
The cross country race included five middle school teams from Middle Tennessee – WCMS, Rockvale, Stewarts Creek, St. Andrews Sewanee, and Franklin South.