Home Local Sports Lady Raiders win 2nd straight meet, Raiders tie for 3rd

Lady Raiders win 2nd straight meet, Raiders tie for 3rd

The Lady Raiders get pumped up ahead of their first-place finish at Tuesday's SAC meet. (Contributed by Tammy McInnis)

SANFORD — For the second straight week, sophomore Mariana Mendez and the Lady Raider cross country team took first overall during Tuesday’s cross country meet. 

Seven of the eight Lady Raiders running in the Sandhills Athletic Conference meet at the Kiwanis Park recorded personal record times, and the other posted a season-best time.

Competing in the 3.2-mile race against host Lee County, Hoke County, Southern Lee and non-conference Ascend Leadership Academy, the Richmond girls’ team took first place with 28 points.

The Raiders also competed, facing a tough field and finished tied for third place with Lee County with 70 points. Three runners clocked in with a new PR, while three others had their fastest race of the season.

Lady Raiders take second straight win

All five of the Lady Raiders who ran for points on Tuesday finished in the top 11 of the field of 27 runners. At the head of the pack was Mendez, who won her second straight race in first place.

Pacing the field with a mark of 22:45, Mendez’s new PR shaved 1:19 off her previous best time set last week at Hinson Lake. Mendez finished the race 75 seconds faster than Lee County’s Sarai Perez (24:00).

Returning to the team after missing last week due to a golf match, sophomore Ella Munn also punched in a new personal record time, crossing the finish line in 24:39. Her efforts landed her in third place overall and peeled 31 seconds off her previous record from last season.

Senior Sheccid Heaton was the third Lady Raider to PR, finishing sixth overall with a time of 25:57. That was 2:13 faster than her performance at Hinson Lake.

Junior Kaleigh Cloninger came within 13 seconds of her fastest race ever, but set a new fastest time this season with her seventh-place run. She crossed the finish line in 26:24, which was more than two minutes quicker than any other time this fall.

Senior Jennifer Gomez capped the scoring for the Lady Raiders, finishing in 11th place with a time of 28:40. Taking 76 seconds off her race from last week, it was also a new PR.

Sophomore Nelly Cadena (18th, 31:42), and freshmen Ella Gibson (24th, 35:20) and Ella Parker (26th, 42:01) rounded out the Lady Raiders’ effort. All three set new PRs as well.

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Raiders battle to third-place tie

Junior Cain Hunsucker leads a pack of Raiders during Tuesday’s meet. (Contributed by Tammy McInnis)

Not able to keep up with a fast-paced Hoke County team (first place, 21 points), the Raiders finished the meet with the same number of points with Lee County for the second consecutive run.

Senior Christian Sanchez moved into the Raiders’ top spot, finishing ninth overall with a mark of 20:56. Although it wasn’t a new PR, that time was 3:38 faster than Sanchez ran just a week prior.

Freshmen Jake Richardson and D.J. Gainey were the next two Raiders to cross the finish line in 21st and 24th place, respectively. The pair of ninth graders recorded their fastest times in their young career.

Richardson finished in 23:45 (2:52 faster) and Gainey’s mark of 24:44 was 77 seconds faster than his previous best.

Making the biggest jump on the day was junior Cain Hunsucker, who placed 25th overall (24:46). He took an impressive 5:29 off his race time from Hinson Lake and was within a minute of his best time from last season.

Senior Naaman Perakis was the fifth Raider to qualify for points, setting a new personal record with a time of 25:08. He was able to remove 1:01 off his race sheet.

Also running for the Raiders to help offset other runners were senior Kodie Simmons (29th, 25:28) and junior Toby McInnis (30th, 25:29). McInnis was on par with Hunsucker, dropping 5:05 off his race time.

Richmond will return to action for its fourth meet of the season next Tuesday at Lee County. The teams will compete against the host school and rival Scotland, beginning at 5 p.m.

Note: The Richmond Observer will update this article with quotes from the coaches when they’re available.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.