Two runners from Loudon and one from Lenoir City have qualified for the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's state championship for cross-country.
Loudon seniors Bre Snow and Mark Rupinski ran Tuesday at the Region 3-A/AA Championship in Chattanooga. Rupinski finished first among the boys, while Snow finished third among girls.
"Everybody else went out real quick, so I just stayed back until about the second mile and then really put in on everybody," Rupinski said.
Rupinski said he was happy to get the first-place finish as a senior. He finished third as a junior.
"That's the only way to do it," he said.
Snow was not as happy with third place.
"I wanted to come in first," she said. "I just ran too fast the first mile. I think if I would have paced myself better I could have come in at least second, but I wanted to be first."
Both Snow and Rupinski have a goal of top 15 at state, but they will try for the best finish they can get. Snow said she is aiming for top five.
"There's going to be more competition this year, but I'm hoping to try to get at least 10," Snow said. "I want to get top five, but I've seen the competition the past few races and it's going to be tough."
Snow's time Tuesday was 21:53.71 and Rupinski's was 17:25.11. Neither runner hit their personal best, something both hope to do at state. Rupinski said he hopes to break the 17-minute mark.
Thursday's Region 2-AAA meet at Knoxville's Victor Ashe Park saw Lenoir City's Haley Morris qualify for state.
Morris finished in fifth place with a time of 20:06.61. The time was six seconds and two places better than she finished one year ago, qualifying for state each time.
"I was very happy," Morris said. "I wasn't expected to get fifth, but I was hoping to get that."
A junior, Morris hopes to better last year's state mark, where she was the 59th finisher with a time of 21:42.5.
"I started fast last year and that made it a lot more difficult later on in the race," Morris said. "I'm going to try to keep my pace even so I can finish better in the end."
A familiarity with the state championship course, which is set at the Steeplechase Cross-Country Course in Nashville, should help the runners.
Rupinski, who has made a trip to state all four years, said he knows the course like the back of his hand.
Morris and Snow should each benefit from a second trip.
"It should actually help a lot," Snow, who finished 10th at state last year, said. "I just want to start out slower and then about a quarter-mile in start passing people and making my way up toward the top."
The cross-country championships are scheduled for Nov. 2. The AAA girls will race first at 10 a.m., which gives Morris the earliest start. A-AA girls will run at 1:40 p.m. and the A-AA boys will follow at 2:20 p.m. as the last group to compete.