The Moore County Middle School Championship cross country race was held last Thursday at the Elks Club in Southern Pines.
Athletes from West Pine Middle, Southern Middle, St. John Paul II, Sandhills Classical Christian, Crain’s Creek and New Century all participated in a two-mile race, with West Pine taking home both the boys’ and girls’ first-place titles.
Leading from the gun in the boys’ race were Andrew Thompson (seventh grade) and AJ Williams (eighth grade), both from West Pine. Thompson finished first with a time of 12:15, with Williams close on his heels in finishing second in 12:20.
Just behind Thompson and Williams were a pair of Crain’s Creek runners — Giovanni Rincon in third with a time of 12:36 and Kaleb Denneny in fourth with a time of 12:36.70.
Coming in right behind Denneny was Kurt Verchick of St. John Paul II, crossing the finish line with fifth place and a time of 12:37.
Dillon Black of West Pine (13:04), Spencer Lykins of West Pine (13:17), Dalton Graham of New Century (13:18) and Kyle Boyce of New Century (13:20) rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Carmen Alder (seventh grade) of West Pine dusted her competition, finishing with a 30-second lead and a first-place time of 12:53. Next behind Alder was Anna Richard of St. John Paul II, running a time of 13:23.
Vanessa Alder, Carmen Alder’s younger sister, placed third, crossing just behind Richard with a time of 13:43. Gabby Cleveland (West Pine) and Emily Bowbliss (New Century) finished close behind, with Cleveland finishing fourth in a time of 13:51, Bowbliss fifth in 14:10.
Lauren Wimberly (St. John Paul II) came in next with a time of 14:16, followed by Christen Fleming of New Century in 14:41, Ellie Campbell of West Pine in 14:42, Raegan Chapman of New Century in 14:55 and Jordan Smith of West Pine in 14:59.
The cross country program in middle schools around Moore County has grown immensely this season thanks to coaches, parents and volunteers, as revealed by the participation of more than 200 young athletes in Thursday’s race.