NASHVILLE – The Brentwood Academy boys’ cross country team flirted with rewriting state history books Saturday at the TSSAA State Cross Country Championships at Percy Warner Park.
They settled for a fifth straight team championship. The Eagles nearly achieved a perfect score by sweeping the top five finishes in the Division II-AA race – a feat done just once before in state history.
Matthew Porter claimed the individual title in nearly 16 minutes flat, while teammate and last year’s champion Matthew McMillan was second in 16 minutes, 26.57 seconds. BA’s George Payne (16:29.86) and Cayden Durrough (16:37.90) finished third and fourth, while Eddie Lunn moved up five places over the final 800 meters before settling for a seventh place finish in 16:47.73, out-kicking Christian Brothers Tyler Casey at the finish.
“All of our guys had tremendous races,” Brentwood Academy coach Marshall Smith said after his boys team clinched a fifth straight team championship. “(Lunn) kind of had a break through day and nearly got that fifth spot. … I just think these seniors decided long ago, they wanted to finish it out that way. They kind of led the way and the other guys followed.”
BA finished with a team score of 17, besting the Eagles previous best of 18 put up by the 2015 championship team.
Porter, who was runner-up to McMillan last year by about eight seconds, said he planned a surge near the middle of Saturday’s race to get some separation after running side-by-side with McMillan for the first half.
“I didn’t look back, so I didn’t know how much separation I had, so I just had to trust it and continue pushing on,” Porter said. “I had given almost all of it with 1K to go and I just had to hang on and trust that I could finish strong.”
McMillan applauded Porter after the race and admitted it was an emotional final race at Percy Warner Park. The senior recently committed to Tennessee and wasn’t quite at 100 percent after battling a hip flexor and hip pain since August. He said he wasn’t able to run for nearly a week and didn’t have any “quality” training for a couple weeks in the past month.
“The last couple weeks have just been a slow build up,” McMillan said. “This was an amazing team effort. I choked up after this one. Our 3, 4 and 5 runners really stepped up and that was cool to see.
“This was definitely unlike any feeling I’ve had. Every state run is special and a different feel and different environment and atmosphere, but today was even more special. It was one last ride.”