Team effort and personal bests key to Graham qualifying eight cross country runners for state

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Team effort and personal bests key to Graham qualifying eight cross country runners for state

Al Macnaughton

Al Macnaughton

Al Macnaughton

Al Macnaughton, Guest Contributer

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Four of the seven Girls on Grahams Cross Country team ran personal best times in the Regional CC Meet yesterday at Lebanon. For the boys Senior Daniel Pearce also ran a personal best as he and the Girls team qualified for the State Cross Country Meet next Saturday at Green Hill Park in Salem Virginia. For the girls this is the 3rd year in a row they have qualified for State!

Boys:

After failing to qualify for the State Meet last year by a slim margin Senior Daniel Pearce was determined to secure a spot at State this year! The qualifying standard for State is to finish as one of the top five individual runners. To accomplish his goal Pearce ran an aggressive yet controlled race. Moving into the top 15 early in the race Pearce kept up a steady pace gradually working his way past several runners including the Conference Champ and runner-up who beat him last week on the same course. Pearce finished with a personal best time of 19:04 on the 5K or 3.1 mile course taking 10th place overall, 3rd State Qualifier and earning All Regional Honors! Freshman Bryce Havens was determined to finish his season on a high note. Havens moved up steadily throughout the race finishing with his 2nd best time ever of 22:05 good for 45th place. The future looks good for Haven’s as he was the 6th best freshman in the race!

Girls:

After making Regionals by winning a tie breaker for the final qualifying position the G-Girls knew as a team they would need to run their best race of the season to have a chance of advancing to State for the 3rd year in a row. Qualifying meant finishing 3rd at Regionals and knocking off one of the 2 teams that beat them at Conference. Each runner had a specific race plan only for them however, there was also a team spirit of supporting your teammates even if it means they finish ahead of you. Junior Katie Benson picked up where she left off last week on the same course by placing 3rd on the 5K or 3.1 mile course in 21:45. Behind Benson a “Pack” of Girls made up of Senior Elise Clary, Junior Emma Seay, Senior Julia Day, Junior Kara Murphy and Freshman Lauren Pearce steadily ran down the competition one by one. When a teammate struggled or fell off the pace, someone else would take the lead and pull the group along.

In the last mile, Clary pulled away from the pack narrowly missing All Regional Honors with a personal best of 24:09 in 19th place. Shortly after Clary left, Seay surged ahead to pass 2 Tazewell runners the last 800 meters finishing 24th in a personal best 24:33. Next was Day who struggled early but fought back taking 27th in 24:55. Blowing away her previous best by over 1 minute Murphy clocked in at 25:15 good for 32nd. Pearce fought off fatigue to finish strong with a 25:24 and 35th place 8th best among freshmen. Setting a new personal best by almost 30 seconds Freshman Rachel White was 45th in 26:52 placing her as the 12th best freshman.

Good luck at the State Meet next Saturday morning in Green Hill Park, Salem VA!