Heading into the 2022 VHSL Class 2 state meet, Alleghany Mountaineers head cross country (XC) coach, Jeremy Bartley was confident his team would win the state title.
The Mountaineers XC girls team walked away multiple hardware at the state meet at Green Hill Park this past Saturday, November 12th.
“At the mile and a half, we knew their top girl had fallen off so I started telling the girls how well they were doing and to keep the pressure on. This motivated them to push even harder”, said Mountaineers head coach, Jeremy Bartley.
Not only did the girls XC team become the first ever girls Alleghany High School team to win a state title, freshman, Kiera Lowman also won the state individual title as she became the first ever freshman to do so.
In a field consisting of 94 individual runners at the girls 5K state meet, the event was dominated by underclassman, while there was a total of just 21 seniors in the field. Out of those 21 seniors, only five finished in the top-20 with one of them being Mountaineer, Gracie Barron, who finished ninth overall with a time of 21:01.90. Including Lowman, there was a total of five freshman in the top-20.
“I expect big things from Kiera after this last track season, but nothing as incredible as the season she had. There is always room for improvements. We are going to get stronger in the weight room, add some mileage, and try to win a bunch more races”, said Bartley.
For Lowman, winning the state individual title, capped off not only one of the greatest VHSL freshman seasons ever, but one of the greatest VHSL seasons in general. Lowman won seven of her eight meets, including the state and regional titles, and also set the school record for the 5K.
Backed by Lowman’s time of 18:59:94, and two other top-10 finishes from Barron and Macyn Cash (10th overall), the Mountaineers finished with 65 points as they bested the Clarke County Eagles and the Floyd County Buffaloes who finished each with 96 points. The Eagles won the tie breaker over the Buffaloes for a second place finish, while the Buffaloes placed third overall.
After losing three out of five meets to the Buffaloes this year, including the Class 2, Region C regional meet 41-48, the Mountaineers came to together when it mattered the most to hold the Buffaloes off.
“We knew what Floyd had and how we stacked up to them, but Clarke County is a crafty team. They are coached by Alleghany great; Tracey Wrenn and her husband. I told the girls to watch for them”, said Bartley about holding off the Buffaloes.
Following Cash who had a time of 21:03.61, was Meredith Minter who finished 30th overall and with a time of 22:36.19. Rounding of the the Mountaineers team was Lucy Nicely (44th, 23:14.37), Alivia Hoover (53rd, 23:24.13), and Bryce Leitch (75th, 25:26.41).
“It’s cliche, but it really was a solid team effort. Kiera scoring one point always helps, but Gracie and Macyn running well and finishing in front of Floyd’s first girl sealed it. Meredith Minter ran above her normal pace”, added Bartley.
Much like at the Class 2, Region C regionals, it was Lowman, Barron, and Cash who were all-state honors at the state meet.
This is coach Bartley’s second state title. He won one with the boys team a few years ago.
“The two championships are both special to me in their own way. The boys will always be special and emotional because they were the first. The girls are a big relief because we were runners up twice before and they were able to get it done this year”, said Bartley on his two state titles.
With two state titles under his belt, coach Bartley has no aspirations of moving to the next level, “I have had two private schools and a college reach out, but I had unfinished business to care of. I am deathly loyal to my area, my school, and my kids. Something really bad would have to chase me off.”
“We always have plans. We are balanced in learning from the past, focusing on the present and where we are and planning for the future. Covington has some phenomenal runners roaming their halls and we are going to find them”, said Bartley on what’s next for the program.
Bartley added, “We will step up in competition next year, but we will rise to the occasion. Our boys will be back with a vengeance. We have some great runners coming up, and I’m working on a few kids that I know of. The future is very bright.”
2022 VHSL Class 2
Girls Cross County State Meet
Green Hill Park
Girls Team Results
1. Alleghany, 65
2. Clarke County, 96
3. Floyd County, 96
4. Wise Central, 136
5. Virginia High, 148
6. Bruton, 149
7. John S. Battle, 158
8. Central (Woodstock), 158
9. Strasburg, 184
10. King William, 213
11. Nelson County, 241
Girls Individual Results (Top 5 & AHS)
1. Kiera Lowman, Alleghany – 18:59.94
2. Abigail Rhudy, Tazewell – 19:07.61
3. Teya Startley, SO 1Clarke County 2 20:22.73
4. Lydid Slemp, Wise Central – 20:31.09
5. Claire Keefe, Strasburg – 20:31.82
9. Gracie Barron, Alleghany – 21:01.90
10. Macyn Cash, Alleghany – 21:03.61
30. Meredith Minter, Alleghany – 22:36.19
44. Lucy Nicely, Alleghany – 23:14.37
53. Alivia Hoover, Alleghany – 23:24.13
75. Bryce Leitch, Alleghany – 25:26.41