After a 400 mile drive across the state, the Dogwood varsity girls’ cross country team is a state champion, and the junior varsity girls placed third.
Each year, the teams run with a competitive field of West Tennessee runners through Memphis Youth Athletics. The end goal is to earn a spot in the state meet in Knoxville, TN at Victor Ashe Park, the home course for the East Tennessee Runners. East Tennessee usually dominates the state race, but West Tennessee teams, who were not mentioned this year in the TN Mile Split write up that makes predictions about the outcomes of state races, surprised everyone. Dogwood coaches were even surprised at the result.
“We had a brand new team, but they are very strong athletes,” coach Stacey Schwarzmann said. “We had more third graders on our varsity team than fourth and fifth graders, so we didn’t think we could actually win state this year. Our goal was to be in the top five. Everyone got a huge PR.”
Korbyn Greene, who finished seventh in the state race, led the team with a mile time of 5:51. “It feels good to win since it's my last year in elementary school,” Korbyn said. "It's not what usually happens. But we practiced a lot, and I worked towards my goal of a sub six mile. Last year I was two seconds away. This year, I accomplished the goal."
Pia Oswald finished 23rd with a time of 6:11, Ivy McIntryre finished 45th with a time of 6:26, Alex Corman finished 64th with a time of 6:34, Ella McBride finished 78th with a time of 6:38, Ainsley Corman finished 129th with a time of 6:57, and Reese Kelley finished 132nd with a time of 6:57. The places of the top five runners are added together to comprise the team’s final score. Dogwood scored 110 points, which put them ahead of ECS by 3 points and the East Tennessee favorite Hardin Valley by 10 points. The total time for all seven runners was 45:38 with a varsity average mile time of six minutes and 31 seconds. Fifth grader Ellis Tognetti qualified as an individual for the boys’ varsity race. He finished in 131st place with a time of 6:28.
It was the first state meet that third graders got to run, and they saw high level competition. "It was a lot harder because all the fastest people in the state were there," said third grader Ivy McIntyre. "But I was prepared because I run a lot of other races like 5Ks too.
This team is more than just about running. “The friendships that they have created make this team special,” coach Madison Lessley said. They held a team building movie night before the state meet, and they have found real friends through this team.
“I have seen a huge sportsmanship transformation and contagious hard work ethic within this team,” Schwarzmann said.
Out of the eight state titles that were up for grabs, Germantown Municipal School District teams claimed four of them. Dogwood won the elementary girls’ varsity race. Farmington won the elementary boys’ varsity race. Houston Middle won the boys’ middle school varsity and junior varsity races. GMSD showed that West Tennessee has talent that can’t be ignored.