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Harpeth Hall runners sprint to team and individual state cross country titles

The Harpeth Hall cross country team poses with the state championship trophy.

‚ÄčThough it’s not exactly right around the corner, the Harpeth Hall cross country team made a few extra trips to Hendersonville this season. They competed in a couple of meets and held a handful of practices there.

Coach Jenny Jervis wanted to make sure her runners were familiar with the climbs, dips, and turns at Sanders Ferry Park — the course that would host the state meet.

It paid off.

On Friday morning, seven Harpeth Hall athletes gathered at the starting line for the 2021 DII-AA state cross country championship. The crisp fall air and sunshine made it a gorgeous day for running, and the team took advantage.

Led by the pace-setting performance of Harpeth Hall junior Bella Guillamondegui, Harpeth Hall sprinted to the championship claiming the DII-AA state title. Bella posted a time of 18:22.80 in the 5,000-meter race to win the individual state championship, and all seven of the Harpeth Hall runners finished in the top 30 to secure the team win.

“The girls were excited, unified, and committed to their goal,” Harpeth Hall cross country coach Jenny Jervis said. “During the race, they knew exactly what they needed to do and they gave everything that they had. It was so fun to see their hard work pay off in an impressive way.”

Along with Bella’s first-place finish, freshman Annamaria Bacchetta (8th), senior Kate Wojciechowski (17th), freshman Lily Bowen (21st), sophomore Elizabeth John (22nd), freshman Clara Scott Harden (28th), and freshman Lucy Farringer (30th) rounded out Harpeth Hall’s successful day.

The winning effort earned Harpeth Hall its first team cross country state title since 2014 and its 13th in school history. The 13 titles are a state record for the most won by any school, boys or girls, in the sport.

“It's amazing and humbling,” said Coach Jervis, a Harpeth Hall world language teacher and department chair who has served as cross country’s head coach for nine years. 

Harpeth Hall students cheer on runners at the 2021 state cross country meet.

“When I started coaching, I probably would have said that I enjoyed running. After working with our Harpeth Hall athletes these many years, I can say that I truly love the sport. Cross country runners are patient, disciplined, and tenacious. They understand the long game and are willing to put in the hard work necessary to accomplish difficult tasks. I feel incredibly lucky to work with these young women.”

Friday’s cross country win built on the energy of an already exciting week in athletics at Harpeth Hall. Just seven days earlier, the soccer team claimed the DII-AA state title. Harpeth Hall now has a total of 59 team championship state titles.

That success is underscored not by the trophies, but by the team spirit Harpeth Hall athletes feel toward each other — win or lose.

“They're a very supportive group of young women,” Coach Jervis said. “They celebrate each other's successes and achievements and rally behind one another when someone hits a snag. They care deeply about one another and they encourage each other to be better, stronger, and to do things the right way.”