Viking Cross Country Teams Hitting Stride
The Viking cross country teams swept a Cape Fear Valley (CFV) conference tri-meet against Douglas Byrd and Southern Lee Wednesday in Cameron.
With a winning total of 23 points, the first place Union Pines boys ran their league mark to 5-0 on the year.
The Vikings had seven runners finish in the top 10, led by junior Joseph Morris's second place time of 17:43. He was followed by sophomore Dylan Blue (17:59) who came in third place. Trevor Morris (18:29), Brandon Berry (19:06) and Lamont Reeves (19:23) took spots five through seven, while Saulo Rodriguez rounded out the top ten with a time of 19:55 for Union Pines. Southern Lee finished second with a team total of 49, followed by Byrd who scored 65 points.
Meanwhile the Viking girls improved to 3-2 on the year, with a winning total of 25 points. Byrd (50) took second, followed by Southern Lee (56). Although Union Pines is currently second in the CFV standings, having twice lost to the first place Overhills Jaguars, head coach Nat Carter feels the team is hitting its stride and still has a strong chance of peaking at the right time to contend for the CFV conference championship meet.
"As a team, the girls need to keep continuing to work hard on our course," Carter said, "which is among the toughest in the region, and keep running over at the Reservoir Park on those hills. With some added discipline, I feel like we will be much more competitive, come time for the Conference Championship than we are now."
Last season, the Union Pines girls' finished second in the regular season conference standings but then won the CFV championship meet and followed the victory with a first place finish at the Mid-East 3A regional.
Junior Brittany Stevens finished in second place for Union Pines Wednesday with a time of 22:27. She was followed by senior captain Kayla Lively who took third with a time of 23:29. Sophomores Jessie Wilson (24:20) and Savannah Mangrum (24:22) claimed the fifth and sixth spots in the race. Vike veteran junior Courtney Voss ran a 24:58 placing ninth to round out the top five for Union Pines.
"Brittany has been our leader time-wise," Carter said, "and is ranked up in the top four of our conference, but she still has not really hit that peak performance level. With a bit more time and effort though I think she could really break through to be a big factor for us."
After the way the Lady Vikes ran on Wednesday, Stevens saw reason for optimism for the remainder of this season.
"Things have been going a lot better lately," Stevens said, "especially because we have many freshmen that have started to really contribute positively. We need to work on keeping our pace strong throughout entire races, as we have a tendency to slow down after each mile.
There is still a good amount of time left in the season and we are going to try our best to win the conference and reach the state meet, which has been our goal since the first day of practice."
Union Pines will have a chance to gain ground on Overhills in a CFV four-school meet, Wednesday in Fayetteville, which includes the first place Jaguars along with Douglas Byrd and Western Harnett.
Contact F.W. Manning II at 639-5481 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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