The biggest race of the cross country season so far happened at McAlpine Park in Charlotte last weekend, as the Weddington finished with the top local boys and girls teams at the CRC Holiday Invitational.
On the girls side, the Warriors pulled off an upset over defending state champions Cuthbertson by placing four runners inside the top 10 and seven inside the top 16. Weddington was led by junior Emma Jones, who finished the 5,000-meter race in fifth place with a time of 18:46.9. Sophomore Elizabeth Ritter and fellow junior Alyx Beausoleil finished just behind Jones with times of 18:52.4 and 18:52.6, respectively.
Despite finishing in second place, Cuthbertson had three of the top four finishers in Saturday’s race. Senior Madeline Hill paced the Cavaliers once again with a time of 18:04.3, which ranked her second behind North Lincoln senior Angie Allen (17:47.8). Sophomores Lillian Nasta and Alyssa Preisano finished third and fourth, respectively, but the next closest Cavalier was sophomore Marissa Bosland, who finished 25th.
Marvin Ridge placed third in the girls race. The Mavericks were led by freshman Alyson Rankin, who finished the race in 12th with a time of 19:10.3. Marvin Ridge’s top four finishers Saturday were all underclassmen.
Union County teams didn’t fare as well in the boys 5,000-meter race, as Weddington was the only team to finish in the top five. The Warriors finished in second place with a score of 66, just two more points than first-place Chapel Hill.
The Warriors had the top runner in the event in sophomore Caden Townshend, who finished 10 seconds ahead of the field with a time of 15:29.4 — which was a new personal record. For comparison’s sake, Townshend’s time Saturday would have been good for first place at last year’s 3A state championship meet, although the difficulty of cross country courses vary.
Townshend and senior Wesley Larson (fourth, 15:44.3) were the only Warriors to finish inside the top 15 of Saturday’s meet. Cuthbertson had two top-10 runners in senior Mickey Schihl (eighth, 16:14.7) and junior Gage Austin (16:18.2), but the Cavaliers finished the meet in sixth place overall.
The last cross country meets of the regular season will take place during the first week of January. The 3A state meet is slated to take place on Jan. 23. The Cuthbertson girls are looking for their second straight cross country state title, while the Weddington boys hoping to improve on last year’s second-place finish to Chapel Hill at the state meet.