Home Local Sports Mendez earns All-SAC honors, Lady Raiders place 3rd at conference championship

Mendez earns All-SAC honors, Lady Raiders place 3rd at conference championship

The Lady Raiders huddle together before Tuesday's SAC championship run. (Deon Cranford)

LAURINBURG — Using the pace of its strongest runner all season, the Lady Raider cross country team secured a third-place finish at Tuesday’s Sandhills Athletic Conference championship meet.

Competing in the 3.2-mile race at the James L. Morgan Recreation Complex, the Lady Raiders collected 97 points. 

Running against the SAC’s six other schools, Richmond placed all of its five point-qualifying runners near the top half of the field.

Pinecrest High School won the team championship with 18 points, and Lady Patriot Lauren Wimberly took home the individual title with a time of 19:33.53.

A total of nine Lady Raiders ran in the race, seeing sophomore Mariana Mendez set the tone for Richmond. She was one of four Lady Raiders to set a new personal record time, and she also earned her first All-SAC selection by finishing in the top 10.

Finishing 9th overall and collecting nine points for the Lady Raiders, Mendez kept pace with a strong frontrunning group of Pinecrest and Union Pines runners. 

Just 24 seconds from breaking into the top five, Mendez clocked in at 21:34.85, an impressive 48 seconds faster than her previous record.

Sophomore Mariana Mendez earned All-SAC honors with her 9th-place finish. (Deon Cranford/The Richmond Observer)

Next to finish for Richmond was senior Sheccid Heaton, who posted her second-fastest time this season (25:01.61). That put her in 25th place overall and notched 17 more points for the Lady Raiders.

Freshman Presley Dawkins continued her late-season surge and punched another personal record time, her fourth time doing so in the last five meets. 

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Tallying a final time of 25:12.48, which was 1:24 faster than her last race, Dawkins kept the Lady Raiders competitive with a 28th-place finish and 21 points.

Sophomores Ella Munn (25:36.57) and Alivia Webb (26:05.39) came in back-to-back for Richmond, taking 32nd and 33rd place, respectively. 

Combining for the team’s final 49 points and locking up third place, Webb’s time was her second-best single race time this season.

Also running to help offset opposing runners for points were junior Kaleigh Cloninger and sophomore Nelly Cadena. Cloninger earned 35th place with a time of 26:28.18 (her second best time this year) and Cadena placed 40th with a new PR of 28:44.14.

Senior Jenifer Gomez (28:51.76) and freshman Ella Parker (40:16.24), a new PR for her, rounded out Richmond’s efforts.

The rest of the standings were Union Pines (second, 49 points), Scotland (4th, 108 points) and Hoke County (5th, 119 points).

At the time of publication, it was unknown if any runners from Richmond qualified for the NCHSAA 4A East regional race. The Richmond Observer will update this article when that information is available.

Below are photos from Tuesday’s SAC championship, taken by contributor Deon Cranford.

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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.