Pinecrest Boys Claim Regional Title
Back in 2010, a group of Pinecrest freshman and sophomore runners concluded that with a lot of hard work, someday they could be part of a special team.
On Saturday at Carolina Horse Park, the Patriot boys repeated as 4-A East Region cross country champions with a dominating performance. Junior Chris Kelly finished third, leading a lineup of seven Patriot runners that finished 21st or better in the 5K field of 145 runners. Coach Jeremy Swofford’s squad won by 34 points over second-place South View.
The Patriot girls were denied in their bid for a second title in a row by Jack Britt. Junior Jennie Cunningham led coach John Buchholz’s runners-up with a fourth-place finish.
Both teams are busy this week preparing for the NCHSAA 4-A State Championships set for Beeson Park in Kernersville on Saturday.
The Patriot boys finished third at the East Region and 15th at the state meet in 2010. After Saturday’s race on a cloudy and windy morning, senior Becket Killam, who finished 13th, talked about the vision his teammates shared two years ago.
“In my sophomore year we weren’t that fast and weren’t making any noise at the state meet level,” he said. “We just kept thinking that by our senior year we could be really good.
“It hasn’t been one season, it’s been three seasons of working toward this goal. We just have a whole bunch of guys that wanted to work for a state championship. It’s just been great running with these guys.”
The boys’ race was won by Philip Hall of Terry Sanford. In addition to Kelly, a two-time Southeastern Conference Runner of the Year, and Killam, the winning score for the Patriots included the finishes of senior Will Pearson, 10th, junior Matt Harmody, 12th, and senior Jacob Troutman, 17th. Also for the Patriot boys, senior Javier Bustos finished 20th and sophomore Robert Anderson came in 21st.
Swofford will take his squad to Beeson Park on Saturday as one of the top-ranked 4-A teams in the state.
“This is a harder course than the state meet course,” the coach said. “We’re currently ranked No. 3 in the state (behind Broughton and Cary), so we’re hoping that will translate into a No. 1 or No. 2 finish.
“There are some other teams that are close to us. It’s going to be a tight, tight meet at states.”
At the end of the girls’ race, senior Sarah Pressley, who finished seventh, still had a faint hope that the Patriots might have edged out favored Jack Britt.
“This really isn’t a course where you go out expecting PRs (personal best times),” she said. “We just went out to run as fast as we could and pick off the Jack Britt girls. But I’m not sure how it went.”
Lavinia Cotto of Jack Britt won the girls’ race, and four of her teammates finished in the top 15. Cunningham, who was the SEC Girls’ Runner of the Year the last two seasons, was followed in by junior Jaleigh Jensen, sixth, Pressley, seventh, junior Sarah Klug, 18th, and junior Zia Matti, 24th.
Patriot junior Mulloy Manning finished 29th, and senior Kelsey Rea was 30th for the host team of the regional.
“We can do better than we did,” Patriot girls’ coach John Buchholz said. “We just have to use it as a building block. I think we’ll do a whole lot better this week.”
Green Hope, the 2011 state champion, is the No. 1 ranked girls’ team. Broughton won the boys’ title last year.
Top 10 boys’ teams: 1. Pinecrest 55, 2. South View 89, 3. Ashley 120, 4. New Hanover 156, 5. Jack Britt 161, 6. West Johnston 163, 7. Hoggard 177, 8. Terry Sanford 183, 9. Pine Forest 191, 10. Garner 275; Top 10 girls’ teams: 1. Jack Britt 45, 2. Pinecrest 59, 3. Clayton 122, 4. New Hanover 130, 5. Laney 153, 6. Hoggard 166, 7. South View 213, 8. Ashley 228, 9. Pine Forest 250, 10. Terry Sanford 252; Pinecrest boys’ results: 3. Chris Kelly (16:29), 10. Will Pearson (16:52), 12. Matt Harmody (16:54), 13. Becket Killam (16:55), 17. Jacob Troutman (17:03), 20. Javier Bustos, (17:09), 21. Robert Anderson (17:09); Pinecrest girls’ results: 4. Jennie Cunningham (19:54), 6. Jaleigh Jensen (20:05), 7. Sarah Pressley (20:06), 18. Sarah Klug (21:02); 24. Zia Matti (21:15), 29. Mulloy Manning (21:34), 30. Kelsey Rea (21:34).
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