COVINGTON - Eastside's cross country team made everyone in Region 8-AAA take notice even though the boys squad came up short in its quest a state berth.
The girls were able to take one of the top four spots in the region meet, while the boys just missed out.
Eastside's boys team finished seventh in the region meet, despite top-10 finishes by Sam Johnson (seventh) and Ace Cook (ninth).
"Overall, both my teams made improvements on their performances from last year so I feel good about the season," Eastside coach Leah Carlisle said. "We are always looking to build on the year before."
The boys improved a bit more than the girls, dropping their average time from 19 minutes, 30 seconds last year to 19 minutes this year.
Helping bring down the times were Johnson and Cook, who averaged less than the 19 minutes.
Johnson paced the team by averaging 18:36.22, including a new school record of 17:49.42, in 10 races with Cook averaging 18:46.18 in 10 races as well.
Mikey Rue made the biggest improvement for the boys, dropping 3:27 from his time.
"Sam Johnson and Ace Cook led the boys. Both have unbelievable raw talent and understand how to push their bodies," Carlisle said. "The boys are graduating Tim Guy, who has been a solid form runner for four years, but the remaining six are returning."
One of the goals Carlisle had for both squads was to make it to the state meet, an accomplishment only made by the girls.
"I also wanted both teams to qualify for state," Carlisle said, "which the girls did."
Alle Haynie (24:08), Melissa Bender (25:06) and Blakely Smith (25:14) led the girls while challenging each other.
Freshman Deanna Kaluta improved the most for the girls, dropping almost eight minutes off her time.
"I recruited Blakley Smith after she ran an 8:30 mile in P.E. and she ran exceptionally well and still hasn't tapped into her potential," Carlisle said.
In Kaluta's first race against Alcovy, she ran the course in 33:42. She consistently cut her time with each race until running a 25:47 at the state meet.
"Elizabeth Reich was a first-year senior. She ran really well at region dropping more than five minutes throughout the season. Morgan Goldman, Torri Hunte and Chrissie McLemore all improved a lot from the beginning to the end," Carlisle said. "I had a lot of new and/or young runners this year, so in the beginning I didn't know what to expect but they proved themselves and I couldn't be more proud. Five of my top seven girls are freshmen. So many of these kids were new to cross country. Now that they got their feet wet, they will know what to expect and what they need to do to excel."