Your Swain Maroon Devils XC teams travelled half way across the state Friday Night to the largest XC meet in the state of NC…The Friday Night Lights Cross Country Festival, and it did not disappoint. Over 3,300 runners from across NC, SC, and Virginia descended upon Kernersville on Sept 8th and ran under a sliver of the moon. Lights were brought in to illuminate the course, which is also the NCHSAA State Course, and lights were strewn throughout the forested parts making this a once in a lifetime experience for our runners. Before the running, there was a festival like atmosphere. Food trucks were all over, vendors selling t-shirts, funnel cakes, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and anything else you could think of, and a DJ pumping out music for dancing and to run with just added to the atmosphere.
Our athletes did not let all the distractions stop them from performing great.
The girls took off at 8:25 pm. They were down their top 2 athletes, however, our next ups are really good. Angle Lomelli led the Maroon Devils with a PR time on that course and an overall PR of 21:06. She placed 32nd out of 300 runners. She was followed by Lily Bjerkness with a place of 22:07 (67 overall), then freshman Emily Gray Stargell making her Swain High debut with a time of 22:46 (91), Marden Harvey 23:04 (109), Audrey Monteith 23:07 (104), Lilah Foster, in her first meet of the season in a time of 24:05 (161), Julianna Meraz-Quijada, in her freshman debut 25:17 (190), followed by another freshman Carden Oetting 25:48 (232), Freshman Kiersten Cucumber 27:02 (264), and Jany Echeverria another freshman with a time of 27:35 (270).
Overall the girls finished 13th out of 34 teams in the Invitational Race. Only one 1A team finished in front of them. State Champion Coach Keith Payne was very pleased with their performance. “It would have been easy for the girls to say we are down our top 2 runners and quit. But they buckled down, focused and all ran course PR’s and several ran overall PR’s. This is why our girl’s teams have been so successful, they know who they are, they know the pedigree we have established, they know what it means to be a Maroon Devil and compete with grit. I am very impressed with our leadership and with our freshman. It’s not easy to come into this sport, where we have been so successful and compete for spots at this level. I am so excited for what is to come with this team.”
The boys took off at 8:55 pm. Many of these boys have had bad experiences on this course having routinely their worst performances of the year on this course. They have developed a mental block to the course and always approach it with trepidation, but not this year. The boys team is led by a block of five seniors who have ran since they were freshman and competing at the state meet since they were freshman. Connor Brown had a great plan and followed through with it throughout the meet, moving from somewhere in the top 70 at the one mile mark and finishing with a time of 17:09 and an 18th place finish out of 346 runners. He was followed by sophomore Carl Baird with a time of 17:28 (36th). They were followed by Kane Jones, senior, 18:01 (69), Connor Lambert 18:52 (143), freshman Ross Clapsaddle 18:57 (149), Abhi Patel 19:18 (176), Cory Wolf 19:45 (214), freshman Derek Gunter 20:26 (262) and freshman Ty Eaton 25:33 (343).
As a team, the boys finished 13th out of 40 teams and were the second 1A team to finish. Coach Keith Payne was very happy with their performance. “We came into the season with high expectations, higher than ever before. We lined up against the top 6 1A teams in the state and went toe to toe with top programs across the state. We did not stand down, we did not wilt, and we accomplished almost every goal we set for ourselves. All of seniors set PR’s on the course and hopefully exorcised the demons of the past. This was the largest race, people wise, they have ever toed the line with, and they competed like champions. While we still have some work to do, and a couple of runners to step up, I am pleased with where we are right now. The hard work is about begin. They are ready for it.”
Your Swain XC teams will have their first home meet this Saturday at Kituwah. The middle school will begin at 8 a.m. and varsity hopefully will start around 9 a.m. Please come out and support your Swain XC teams. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning.