SOUTHERN PINES – It was a championship atmosphere Thursday when the Richmond Senior High School boys and girls cross country ran in the Sandhills Athletic Conference championship at the Pinecrest Elk Lodge. Neither team would earn the No. 1 the honor, but personal records and impressive individual showings were present.
Running at the Elk Lodge for the second time in a week, the rolling hills were familiar territory for the Richmond runners. Sophomore Airel Brown, who was named to this year’s First Team All-Conference, took a significant amount of time off her pace, and finished in 11th place and with a personal best time of 21:46. Freshman Gracelyn Weatherford also had a personal best, finishing in 22nd place (23:50). On the boys team, senior Brandon Silva, who has proven meet after to meet to be the Raiders’ top runner, collected his personal best of 17:52.
The girls team finished in fourth place behind Scotland, Jack Britt and Pinecrest high schools. Senior Shelby Matheson rounded out the girls’ top three, placing 24th overall (24:30). Head coach Reggie Miller noted the absence of sophomore Emily Buie (hip injury), but said he was proud of the girls for their fight and effort.
In the boys race, Richmond finished in 5th place in what Miller was quoted, “the most exciting conference championship in my nine years of coaching.” Silva was the front runner for the boys team finishing in 15th (17:52). Sophomore Joey Nicholson had the second best time for the Raiders finishing 30th with a time of 19:09.
“It was remarkable to see runners fighting for the finish line,” Miller said of both of his team’s sprints in the final stretch.
Miller, who was an esteemed runner at Richmond during his high school days, was voted the SAC’s “coach of the year” for the second consecutive season. He noted he’s humbled by the other coaches who voted for him and for recognizing the hard work his runners put into making the program better year after year.
Both teams will head to Kernersville, N.C., Saturday, October 28 for the regionals race.