Photo: Ashville High’s Joe Stevens crosses the finish line at the Class 4A Section 2 boys meet on Thursday, October 28 at White Plains. Stevens finished second out of 59 runners. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
In what is believed to be the first time in the program’s history, the Ashville High boys cross country team left a sectional meet with the first-place trophy.
On the strength of four top 10 finishes, the Bulldogs took home the top award at the Class 4A Section 2 meet on Thursday, October 28 at White Plains. Ashville qualified as a team for the AHSAA state meet on Saturday, Nov. 6 at Indian Mounds Park in Oakville.
Joe Stevens paced AHS with a runner-up time of 17:06.02, 14 seconds behind Munford’s Dakota Frank. Wyatt Knight pulled in behind Stevens for third place at 17:47.41, while Ashton Vann finished seventh at 18:14.26 and Clayton Knight 10th at 18:43.56. Bruce Pantoja came in on the heels of Knight for 11th place at 18:50.11. Greyson Simpson’s 25th place time of 20:42.85 helped secure Ashville’s victory.
The Bulldogs’ average time of 18:08.28 was almost a minute and 40 seconds better than second-place White Plains (19:35.87). Ashville was runner-up at the 2020 section meet.
“I’m very excited for these kids, because they’ve been working for this for a long time.,” said AHS cross country coach Michele Rogers. “They run for each other and they knew what at stake today, and they did what they had to do. This is a big deal for them to finally get that sectional win.”
Rogers said the team’s offseason workouts were the key to Thursday’s fine showing.
“They’ve been working hard all summer, between running at workouts and running on their own and going to the Brevard [cross country camp]. Plus, these guys really like each other and encourage each other.”
The Bulldogs are currently seeded third in the state behind American Christian and Bayside Academy.
“We’re certainly within reaching [of winning state], but we’re going to have to show up and run our very best race,” said Rogers. “The first, second and third [runners] will have to do their jobs, of course, but we really need our fourth, fifth and sixth guys to step up and get it done. That’s going to be crucial.”
Helping the Bulldogs’ cause were Carter Jones (21:00.98), Maddox Vann (21:51.78), Kanyon White (22:16.48) and Walker Griffith (22:58.63).
The Ashville girls finished third to qualify as a team for the state meet. The Lady Bulldogs’ average time of 24:03.57 was only 27 seconds behind runner-up Oneonta (23:36.70). Leading the way for AHS in the top 10 were Taylor Knight in fourth place at 21:13.15 and Kathleen McCarthy in seventh at 22:16.70. Emma Drinkard came in 15th at 24:01.10, followed by Emma Thompson in 21st at 24:37.31. Also competing were Sydney Worsham (28:09.58), Anzlee Farmer (31:17.52) and Meghan Stewart (31:24.80).