Thomas Jefferson cross country teams run to breakout season

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Sunday, October 23, 2022 | 11:01 AM


The Thomas Jefferson girls cross country team claimed the Big South Conference championship this season in a close race with Ringgold.

Sparked by senior Kiley Dorrian’s overall winning time of 21:29.9, the Jaguars captured the title with a clutch 40-42 decision.

“Our girls team put in the work to be one of the contenders in our section this season,” TJ coach Amanda McHugh said. “We have grown over the past few years from five girls on the team to now 15. This has helped with our increase in success from season to season. The girls have shown meet after meet why they deserve to be a contending team in the section.”

Dorrian defeated runner-up Hope Bundash, a McGuffey senior, by three seconds at the conference meet Oct. 5 at Mingo Creek Park in Monongahela.

“Kiley did great at the Big South,” McHugh said. “She knew going into it that she could place in the top three and stayed focused to find opportunities to work her way to the top.

“I have had Kiley as a runner since she was a freshman. Kiley alone has helped bring TJ to the position we are in today. Adding her sister Brighid to the team last year showed the other girls we had a chance to really make an impact in our section. Brighid has natural talent, and when she is in competition mode, she is able to rise to the next level.”

Kiley Dorrian was ecstatic over the improvements made in the girls program this season.

“Our team has really taken off this year,” Dorrian said. “It’s the biggest it’s been throughout my high school career. We had a decent section season; we lost only two times. The Big South was the first meet that our girls team won at an invitational while I’ve been in high school, which was super exciting. I think it was also the first time we ever beat Ringgold, which was even more of an accomplishment for us.

“I think there will be more TJ cross country runners getting recognized in the coming years due to the competitive spirit that has taken over the team. “

Dorrian, who also competes on the TJ girls track team, has a 4.375 GPA and is an officer for the National Honor Society and Student Council. She also serves as president of the French Honor Society, is class treasurer and is a member of STEM and AP Humanities.

And as if she’s not busy enough, Dorrian works on costumes for the spring musical and fall play at TJ.

“After a not-so-good season (in 2021), this season personally has been so refreshing,” Dorrian said. “Last season, I found out I was anemic. I probably have been for years, but it didn’t hit me hard until last year. I’ve dropped time nearly every race (in 2022) and have gone beyond my initial goals for this season.”

TJ sophomores Nora Kudis (22:05.4) and Brighid Dorrian (24:06.1) placed third and ninth at the Big South meet while senior Amelia Patterson (25:85) and junior Gabby DeSalvo (26:03) finished 13th and 14th.

Sophomore Lily Hurst and junior Belle Snyder also turned in top-20 performances for the Jaguars.

“The girls have surpassed my expectations,” McHugh said. “We have a lot of young talent that is going to make us one of the top contenders moving forward.”

The Jaguars ended up third in the section this season behind Ringgold and Uniontown with a 6-2 record.

“My expectations were to finish high in our section,” McHugh said. “We knew after last year that if we worked hard in the summer, we could give the top teams a run for the title.

“The girls took this goal to heart and worked very hard over the summer to come into the season ready to go.”

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