Gordon Lee cross country runners have state titles in their sights
The 2016 cross country season was arguably the most successful one as a whole for the Gordon Lee High School program. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams won area championships and both went to place third at the Class A Public School meet.
It was the highest state finish for a Gordon Lee boys’ team and the second-highest finish for a Gordon Lee girls’ team, who own a previous state runnerup trophy.
And if early returns mean anything, 2017 is shaping to possibly be the biggest and best year in the program’s history.
“We’re looking pretty solid right now,” head coach Nathan Burns explained. “We had a good first meet at Ridge Ferry (Rome). I was really excited about the numbers there. There were lots of personal records set on a fast course.
“We didn’t lose anyone on the girls’ (side). We lost two of our top seven boys, so we’re looking for replacements there, but we have two pretty strong teams coming back. I’m looking for good things from both of them this season.”
On the girls’ side, sophomore Gracie O’Neal bested the previous school record by nearly two minutes and destroyed her own personal-best time by almost six full minutes as she won at Ridge Ferry in a time of 18:19. She placed second in last year’s state meet, one spot ahead of Kate Gilliam. Gilliam, a senior, was 11th at state a year ago and capped the season by being named the Walker County Female Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Gilliam, along with senior Riley Cash and junior Kaylan Jackson, all ran in under 23
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is producing all five home games on ESPN3 for the upcoming season. Fans from across the country can tune into the broadcast on various streaming devices, or online through the link on the football schedule page on GoMocs.com.
Chris Goforth provides the play-byplay, with former Moc B.J. Coleman as the analyst. Both are alumni of UTC and who look forward to broadcasting Mocs Football on ESPN3.
“I am fortunate to work for a couple of tremendous organizations and getting to do this now for UTC is both incredible and an absolute honor,” stated Goforth. “I can’t wait to sit next to B.J. and get started.
“When B.J. played for a state championship as a senior at McCallie, I called that game on radio. I know about B.J.’s work ethic and intense preparation as a player, and I am excited to see what he brings to the telecast.”
Goforth earned his Communications Degree from UTC in 1996. He is in his 22nd year of broadcasting high football on both television and radio in the Chattanooga area. He also hosts a weekend show in Atlanta on 92.9 FM and is a part of the Atlanta Falcons radio broadcast.
He is very familiar with UTC, having called all men’s and women’s basketball games for ESPN3 last season. He was also the voice of the Mocs women’s basketball team from 1995-1999 and hosted the women’s basketball coaches show for CSS from 2008-2011.
Coleman made a huge impact on Chattanooga football after transferring from Tennessee in 2009. His 6,871 passing yards are third all-time at UTC, while his 52 passing touchdowns are second. He is one of just two Mocs in school history with six or more 300yard passing games. He was taken in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft (243rd) by the Green Bay Packers.
“Football has played a major role in my life,” said Coleman. “Although my playing career has come to an end, I look forward to the opportunity that lies ahead as an analyst. It will be a privilege to sit alongside Chris, as his body of work speaks for itself. When I got the call, it was a nobrainer.” minutes in Rome, while sophomore Taylor McAllister and freshman Grayson Alexander crossed the line just over the 23-minute mark. All will be counted on heavily this season, as will senior Michaela Russell and juniors Emma Cate Dendy and Chanler Hysell.
Cole Collins is the lone senior on the boys’ roster and will be a
mainstay in the top seven, along with junior Jasper Wilson, who also had a record-setting first meet in Rome. Wilson, who won the area title and placed third at state last year by running 18:51 in both races, clocked in at 16:52 at Ridge Ferry to place sixth overall. That time broke the Trojans’ school mark by three seconds and would have won state last year by more than 30 seconds.
Two more top runners for the Trojans are sophomore Ian Goodwin and freshman Jake Lee, who both turned in sub-18 minute times in Rome. Other names to know for the 2017 season include juniors Braxton Ledford, Jagger Martin and Michael Hubona, along with sophomore Alex Stone.
“The ultimate goal is to be on top of the podium (at state),” Burns said. “But each day our goal is just to get better as a team, and I feel like if we keep doing that, we’ll be at the top of the podium come November.”
Seniors Cole Collins, Riley Cash, Kate Gilliam and Michaela Russell are hoping to close out their high school cross country careers with state championships. Both the Trojans and Lady Trojans placed third in the Class A Public School state meet last year. (Photo by Scott Herpst)