Many cross country runners spend their entire high school careers working to drop their personal best times and reach their goals. For two runners, the results have come earlier than they had thought.
Evans sophomore Elena Hubbard and Greenbrier senior Josh Sapp have a combined three years of experience in high school cross country competition.
Hubbard has run competitively since middle school but joined the varsity squad just last season.
Sapp, after three years on the Greenbrier drum line, dropped the drumsticks for the 5-kilometer track for the first time this fall.
Both are now the top two runners in Columbia County.
"It takes mental focus," Evans cross country coach Miranda Gilliland said. "As the competition increases the mental aspect comes in even more."
That's where both runners excelled this year. Hubbard, who was the second-best runner in the county to start the season, went on to take first place in the Region 3-AAAA meet and then finished ahead of all other county girls runners in the Class AAAA state meet with a 15th-place finish.
Her time of 19:46 in the region meet is a school record.
"I was behind three of four other runners most of the race," Hubbard said. "I took the lead on the last hill."
Sapp also took first place in the region meet with a time of 16:14 in the boys race. He went on to top all other county runners in the Class AAAA boys meet with a sixth-place finish.
Although it was his first year of cross country competition, the Greenbrier senior's talent must run in the family. His brother was one of the top runners for the Wolfpack last season and has continued his running career at Tennessee Wesleyan.
"My brother, Zach, was on the team the last three years. I was in the drum line," he said. "This year I figured I never really excelled in music, but I was always decent in running. I worked and logged a lot of miles over the summer, and it's paid off."
Sapp said he ran about 500 miles this summer and 750 miles since the season started. While he wasn't in the Greenbrier marching band at the Friday night football games this year, he still hasn't given up on the music portion of his life.
"Sometimes when I'm running I still run through cadences in my head," he said. "I get a fast beat going through my head, and it helps."
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