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Steven Bradford, a junior at Williamstown, expected to qualify for state, whether it was as an individual or as a member of his team.
Drew Harris, an eighth grader, found out he had a chance to make it to state with a mile left in the race.
Bradford and Harris each earned a spot in the state meet, qualifying as individuals and leading the Demons to a seventh place finish, one spot away from qualifying as a team.
“The guys knew they had to step it up,” coach Michelle Whaley said. “They went over and beyond. I wish they could have gone to state as a team, but Steven and Drew had great performances.”
Bradford finished 15th for the Demons. He was followed by Harris (31st), eighth grader Hunter Trenary (41st), eighth grader Tucker Trenary (53rd), junior Derrick King (54th), senior Logan Neal (56th) and junior William May (76th). May replaced sophomore Chris Brann, who was sick. The Demons were also without sophomore Hunter Pendleton, who had a leg injury, and junior Jake Reaves, who didn’t race this year following an injury.
Bradford earned his second consecutive trip to the state meet, but was disappointed with his performance and believes he will use that as motivation for the final race of the year.
“I’m excited and it’s a weight off my shoulders,” Bradford said. “Being in the top 15 at state would be wonderful, but being in the top 20 is more reasonable. It’s going to be important to get out early.”
Harris didn’t know how close he was to qualifying until he heard someone yell from the crowd during his final mile. As he closed in on the finish, he pushed himself, earning the final spot by six seconds.
“I didn’t know that I was going to, so I just ran my race,” Harris said. “I was excited when I found out I had qualified because it’s been a goal all season. I’m not setting any goals at state because it’s just extra.”
Sophomore Katie Butler had hoped to return to state as an individual, but was unable to, finishing 32nd.
“I didn’t do as well as I would have liked to,” Butler said. “I went out too hard on my first mile and I killed myself. I didn’t have it left in me to do what I needed to do to qualify for state. It showed me that I have to work for it. I plan on training all off-season and improving for next year.”