Girls cross country duo hoping for company at state this year

Litza Craig

It seems a given in most sports that when one athlete makes it to the TSSAA State Championship, the whole team does. But for Bearden girls cross country, this has rarely been the case. Until last fall, the girls team had not had more than one girl go to state since 1995, but Rebecca Stover and Tru Powell changed that last year by both representing the Bulldogs at the state meet. Going into this year, the team has more confidence than ever that they can get their whole team to state. “We have a lot stronger team than we have had in the past, like a lot stronger this year,” Stover said. Not only do the Bulldogs return Stover, a senior, and Powell, a sophomore, but they also will look to senior Olivia Gianeselli, sophomores Joanna Logan and Sarah Henson, and freshman Sarah Crowley. They will need great seasons from all of them to beat area powerhouses like Catholic, Farragut, Hardin Valley and Oak Ridge. “Olivia Gianeselli has been really impressive in workouts,” Powell said. “So we are really looking forward to see how she does because she has never raced before.” Gianeselli has normally been focused on soccer this time of year, but when she decided not to play this year, her schedule opened up for a new sport. “Since I didn’t do soccer this year, I thought that I would run cross country,” Gianeselli said. “It’s not as time consuming as soccer, but still a good thing to belong to and I enjoy it.” Although the team’s greatest weakness this season will be having a young team, Bearden coach Steve Prince seems confident in this group of girls. “We have a solid seven girls, and no one really knows about us,” Coach Prince said. “And that’s the best.” While Stover has been the record setting prodigy at Bearden High School for the past three years, Powell is also making a name for herself on the course. As a freshman, Powell ran a 20:04.90 in the K.I.L. Cross Country Championship – placing fourth. Not only are Powell and Stover working hard to get to state in cross country, but they are also working just as hard to earn a soccer title. Their days consist of school, cross country practice at 5:00 p.m., and then soccer practice at 6:00 p.m. Then it is back at home to rest up for another busy day. “It’s hard, but it’s manageable because we usually don’t have soccer on the weekends,” Powell said. “So they really don’t conflict, but you get tired.” Although Bearden soccer coach Eric Turner and Coach Prince would love it if the two girls just participated in that particular coach’s sport, this is not the schedule that these girls have chosen. Picking which meets to run and what games to play, though, can definitely be a challenge. “Well soccer is mandatory and Coach Prince would like us to be at all of the (cross country) practices, but (Coach) Turner doesn’t really let us,” Stover said. Stover and Powell will only be able to run three out of the four regular season meets because of soccer games and college visits this season. “I don’t know how they do both,” Gianeselli said. It worked out for the two of them a year ago. They are just hoping Gianeselli and the rest of the girls join them at state this year.