Pinecrest Harriers Hit Ground Running
One of the most reliable preseason predictions that can be made concerning the Mid-Southeastern Conference is that Pinecrest will add another title in boys' and girls' country.
Both squads took the first step on the quest for another title when they traveled to Jack Britt Tuesday for their first conference meet of the season. Also running in the meet, along with Britt and Pinecrest, are Douglas Byrd and Hoke County.
John Buchholz (girls) and Ed Kelly (boys) hold the reins of teams that have won conference championships every year since 1992 for the girls and 1994 for the boys.
The Patriot boys won the state 4-A title in 2004 and finished second to Chapel Hill by a single point last year. Senior Andy Wacker is the defending champion of the East Regional, and finished fourth in the state meet.
The Patriot girls won the regional meet in 2004 before coming in second last year.
Even though the likes of Chase Williams, Jordan Rickard, Jed Black, and Katie and Ann Fields graduated in June, the Patriot monopoly at the conference level appears to be on solid footing.
"I think we have more depth than we've had," Buchholz says of the girls' squad. "We could conceivably have the top-seven runners at 21 minutes or better and have three break 20."
The leading returnees for the girls are senior Amanda McKinney, juniors Lauren Bishop and Caitlin McArdle, and sophomore Stephanie Shannon. Each earned all-conference honors last year by finishing in the top 14 in the conference meet.
Among the others expected to score in meets throughout the season include senior Carolyn Mullen, junior Emily Ivey, sophomore Katie Letsinger and freshmen Lexie Schustrom and Fay Chu.
Seven of the Patriot girls and four of the boys attended a team camp at Appalachian State University this summer.
In addition to his success in cross country last year, Wacker was a member of the Patriot 3,200-meter relay team that broke the state record in the state 4-A championship track meet at North Carolina A&T last May.
Also returning is senior Andrew Garrison, sixth in last year's conference meet, and junior Brett Baggett, who earned all-region honors with a 14th-place finish in the East Regional at South View.
Among the other returnees are senior Alex Brown, juniors Bryce Pittard, Josh Middleton and Patrick Sessoms, and sophomores Mark Moon and Derek Whitescarver.
"We've got a younger team now and we have to bring them along a little slower," Kelly says. "Andy (Wacker) is at a different level from everybody else. We'll try to raise everybody closer to him.
"We're starting all over, but I can't wait to see our times at the first meet."
Sept. 2 -- at Campbell Invitational; 5 -- Byrd, Seventy-First, Hoke at Pinecrest; 9 -- at UNC-W Seahawk Invitational; 12 -- Britt, Richmond, Seventy-First at Pinecrest; 19 -- Hoke, Richmond, Scotland at Pinecrest; 26 -- Pinecrest, Byrd, Britt at Hoke; 30 -- Greensboro Invitational at Hagan Stone Park; Oct. 3 -- Byrd, Hoke, Seventy-First at Pinecrest; 10 -- Pinecrest, Richmond, Seventy-First at Jack Britt; 14 -- Four-Runner at Tanglewood Park, Clemmons; 17 -- conference championship at Pinecrest; 28 -- regional meet at UNC-W; Nov. 4 -- state 4-A championships at Tanglewood Park
More like this story