There's just something attractive about the cross country course at Moccasin Bend to the runners from Baylor.
It's close to home, although the Red Raiders don't normally train on the course that serves as the home course for the UTC Mocs.
Whatever the case, Baylor runners have done well at the PowerAde Invitational in years past and that pattern continued Saturday morning.
Senior Simon Holden won the boys race for the second straight year as the Baylor boys finished second to Dobyns-Bennett in the team competition.
Freshman Grace Carlson ran away from the pack to win the girls race as the Lady Red Raiders claimed their third-straight team title in this event.
Holden covered the flat and fast 3.1-mile looping course in 16 minutes and 12 seconds while Bradley's Harold Smith was second in 16:20.
Dominic Voehler of Hume-Fogg, Austin Frye of Dobyns-Bennett and Brody Cook of Northwest Whitfield completed the top five with times of 17:11, 17:12 and 17:22, respectively.
Carlson was running with teammate Haley Chandler for the first mile, but Chandler dropped out as Carlson kept the pace to win by 42 seconds over runner-up Alexa Zimmerman of Dobyns-Bennett.
Carlson finished in 20:17 while Zimmerman recorded a 20:59.
Northwest Whitfield's Shelby Wilson was third in 21:04 while Centennial's Brady Bove was fourth in 21:05 and Lucy Whitfield of GPS fifth in 21:09.
With Baylor teammates Caitlin Duggan and Sydney Gautier both finishing in the top 10 -- Duggan sixth in 21:24 and Gautier ninth in 21:46 -- Baylor notched its third-straight victory with 45 points.
Zimmerman and teammate Hannah Cutshall both finished in the top 10, but Dobyns-Bennett had to settle for second with 61 points.
"I'm happy that I won, but I'm disappointed I didn't run as fast as last year," said Holden minutes after crossing the line as a two-time winner.
"I normally don't start out fast, but I took the lead in the first mile. I knew that Harold was back there and I was nervous with him on my back, but I tried to kick as hard as I could at the end.
"There was definitely some good competition here today and overall, I'm happy, but I'm disappointed I didn't get a PR," the 17-year-old senior added, noting that his personal best is 16 minutes flat.
Smith, like Holden, has a strong kick, but once Holden changed his strategy early, Smith couldn't catch him.
"I ran with him for the first mile and a half. I tried to keep up with him, but I guess I had to use too much energy to do that and I didn't have much of a kick left at the end. I've got good speed, but I'm lacking in endurance right now," Smith explained.
Carlson is quickly becoming Baylor's top runner. She and Chandler were together at the start, but the 14-year-old freshman was all on her own after Chandler withdrew.
"It was a flat course, but I'm happy as the team did awesome," Carlson said after getting a congratulations from her twin brother John, who ran an 18:06 in finishing 18th for the Baylor boys.
"Our goal was to have fun and see what happens. I was hoping to get close to my PR, but that didn't happen. I kept saying positive things to myself and that helped, but it's much easier to run fast when you have someone beside you," Carlson added.
Heather Ott coaches the Baylor girls and she's all about running strong as a team. She was happy to find out that her girls had prevailed for the third straight year.
"Did we win? I wasn't sure after Haley dropped out, but it was our goal to defend our title and it's always nice to add to the streak," Ott said while making her way back toward the finish line.
"Grace ran great again. She's learning how to handle the pressure of running up front. Caitlin (Duggan) stepped up and Sydney (Gautier) had an outstanding race. She had a PR last Saturday and again today. Ruthie Townsend was away taking the ACT, but I'm impressed with how others step up on different days.
"It was definitely a good day for the Lady Red Raiders," Ott concluded.
Jan Gautier is the coach for the Baylor boys. After finishing third last year, the Baylor boys moved up a spot and virtually all of the varsity runners posted personal-best times.
"I know that Simon is disappointed with his time, but he's been doing a lot of distance and not a lot of speedwork. Despite that, he kept it steady today and ran a strong race," Gautier began.
"Our team ran really well as at least half of them had personal bests. I'm very pleased," she added.
There were eight teams scoring among the guys while nine teams scored in the girls race. In addition to Baylor, Dobyns-Bennett, Bradley, Northwest Whitfield and GPS, the others included Father Ryan, Hume Fogg, Centennial and Soddy Daisy.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)