COVINGTON - The Alcovy and Eastside girls cross country teams will have to reduce their times, both in the 24-minute range, if they hope to be truly competitive in their respective classes at the state meet Saturday in Carrollton.
While Alcovy coach Scott Murphy has a goal of all seven runners setting new personal records, Eastside's Leah Carlisle is setting her team goal a tad higher.
"You train all season to make it to the state meet, so it feels really fantastic and it's a relief when you qualify. The kids are so excited," Carlisle said. "We are trying to average 23 minutes, 30 seconds. We are aiming to place above 15th."
Eastside is ranked 35th in Class AAA with an average time of 24 minutes, 9 seconds, while Alcovy, ranked 49th in Class AAAA, has an average team time of 24:59.
Murphy said his girls had the chance to make it to the main run following the Reebok Coach Wood Invitational, where Tatlin Gammon came in 63rd out of a field of 175 with a time of 22:37.59.
Gammon paced the Lady Tigers with her lowest time, followed by Makiala Houseworth (24:52.59), Rochelle McNally (25:40.20), Briana Pace (25:44.62), Matresa Flowers (26:01.73), Brittany Woodruff (27:47.50), TaMarria Hudson (27:45.65) and alternate runner Amy Boldin (29:20.17).
"The team has been working hard and is getting good at sticking to race strategies," Murphy said.
Carlisle said her team was headed in the right direction early in the season after the Rock Ranch Invitational in Yatesville.
Eastside finished in the middle of the pack out of a field of 15 with Alle Haynie being the Lady Eagles' top runner. She finished 32nd out of 123 competitors with a time of 24:32.62.
"Things started looking better at the Mountain Invitational at the Rock Ranch. (The girls) drastically dropped their times, and it was early," Carlisle said.
At the Mountain Invitational, Haynie posted a personal best time of 23:06.72.
The rest of the Eastside team consists of Blakely Smith, Melissa Bender, Chrissie McLemore, Deanna Kaluta, Torri Hunte and Morgan Goldman.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.