Vike Harriers Hold Senior Night
With three weeks left in the Cape Fear Valley Conference season, both the Union Pines boys' and girls' cross-country teams find themselves in relatively unfamiliar territory.
The Vike boys have two wins and two second place finishes in their first four league meets of the year. Despite missing three of its usual top-five runners, Union Pines managed to pull out a convincing win in a tri-school CFVC meet during Senior Night in Cameron last week.
"It has been a tough year," said Viking senior Joseph Morris, who placed second at last week's meet with a time of 18:39.78. "My (twin) brother, Trevor, is going to miss the next two weeks, Brandon Berry has been out since preseason, and Dylan Blue is also currently injured."
Each of those three runners are in the top five for Union Pines, and all earned all-conference honors last year by placing in the top 12 at the CFVC championship meet. The Vikings entered the season as the defending CFVC Champions and were the eighth-ranked boys' team in the NCrunners.com preseason 3A boys' top-10 poll.
"Many of our other guys have stepped it up," Morris said, "and been working really hard, which has been huge. Mainly I have been working with the injured guys to make sure they are smart and come back at the right time.
"If they can do that, then as we pick up our workouts, they will too, and by the time our conference meet comes around we should eventually have a pretty solid team."
Senior Daniel Deardorff placed third last week, followed by sophomore Storm Jessup, who turned in a strong showing to finish fourth. Senior Saulo Rodriguez took the sixth spot, and Ryan Hull rounded out the Viking top five by placing 10th as Union Pines won the meet with 25 points, defeating second-place Overhills (38) and third-place Gray's Creek (59).
"I was really motivated before the race because I knew this would be the last time I ran a meet here at Union Pines," said Morris. "So that was probably the hardest I have gone in a race all year."
Union Pines has five senior boys on its roster, including Joseph and Trevor Morris as well as Berry, Rodriguez and Deardorff.
Meanwhile, the Lady Vikings have four senior runners, including Court-ney Voss, Tyesha McLean, Jocelyn Rodriguez and Brittany Stevens.
All nine runners were honored with a ceremony at the end of the meet. The group met with their parents as each senior received a bouquet of roses and a plaque.
The Union Pines girls placed second in their senior night meet, led by Stevens, who finished as the runner-up with a time of 24:09.30. Voss was the next Viking to come in, taking the seventh spot, followed directly by McLean, who placed eight.
The Lady Vikings have one conference win and three second-place finishes thus far in league competition. Overhills won the meet with a score of 22, topping Union Pines (46) and Gray's Creek (66).
Last week McClean, who is a three-year senior on the Union Pines team, struggled with back troubles.
"Coming off a tough race at Overhills," McLean said, "I just motivated myself since it was senior night to push myself real hard no matter what. Fortunately, my back was not an issue and I just went out there and did it.
"The season has been going well, but we don't have that many girls running so we have been coming in second on most of our races. But as we get more girls and practice and practice I think we can take the conference (meet) this year."
Four-year runner Courtney Voss had a particularly strong showing in her final race at Union Pines. After the meet, the two-year team captain had mixed emotions.
"I am just really sad that this was my last race here," said Voss. "I have really enjoyed being a part of the Union Pines cross-country program - just the team and the atmosphere and competing here."
This past spring, Voss won the inaugural Hannah Gibson Spirit award and was named the most dedicated female cross-country athlete as a junior.
"So I feel like I did good in my last race here to sum it all up," Voss said, "and that makes it all the more special"
Both Union Pines cross-country teams are back in action today, for the fifth week of CFVC meets, in a quad-school meet at Westover.
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org
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