CAMERON — A challenging course paved the way for Richmond Senior High School’s cross country teams during Tuesday’s season opening meet.
The Raiders and Lady Raiders competed in their first of seven regular-season meets at Union Pines High School, running the 3.2-mile race against the host school and Lee County High School.
Both of Richmond’s teams secured a second-place finish, with the Lady Raiders registering 47 points and the Raiders collecting 50 points. Each race had a total of 28 runners on the final time sheet.
Union Pines’ boys’ and girls’ teams won the meet with 15 and 16 points, respectively. Lee County had several runners compete in both races, but didn’t have enough to qualify for the team scoring.
“We were proud of how all of our runners ran on this difficult course,” coach Ashleigh Buie said. “It’s always hard to start on the most difficult course at your first meet, but we are looking for some major time improvements for the rest of the season.
“Both of our teams showed a lot of heart and persevered through the race,” she added. “We were excited to see out of all the teams competing that our runners were the only ones to come in on a full sprint.”
In the girls’ race, it was sophomore Mariana Mendez who paced the Lady Raiders with a time of 26:08, putting her fifth overall and scoring five points. Her time was just 2:38 behind winner Emily Mila (23:30).
Junior Kaleigh Cloninger was second on the team, and 15th overall, with a mark of 29:24, to add nine more points to Richmond’s total.
Sophomore Ella Munn (30:25) and senior Sheccid Heaton (31:17) finished back-to-back in 18th and 19th place. Those finishes combined for 21 points.
Another trio of Lady Raiders crossed the finish line in close proximity, including senior Jenifer Gomez (31:35), freshman Presely Dawkins (31:54) and sophomore Alivia Webb (32:28).
Those three runners placed 21st, 22nd and 23rd overall, and Gomez’s 12 points were the final added to Richmond’s score. Also completing the race was sophomore Nelly Cadena, who crossed the finish line in 37:47 (27th place).
Seven total runners participated for the Raiders, and senior Kodie Simmons was the first member of the team to complete the race in 24:41, good enough for 12th overall and eight points.
Fellow senior runner Christian Sanchez was on his heels, taking 13th overall with a time of 24:42 and nine more points for the Raiders.
Senior Naaman Perakis, freshmen Jake Richardson and D.J. Gainey, and junior Cain Hunsucker came in together in 18th through 21st place, respectively.
Perakis recorded a time of 27:32 for 10 points, Richardson was just behind him at 27:40 and 11 points, while Gainey (28:39) and Hunsucker (28:59) combined for the final 25 points.
Junior Toby McInnis rounded out the Raiders’ efforts with a 26th-place finish, clocking in with a time of 30:40.
Winning the race for the Vikings was Corbin Weeks with a time of 18:21.
Richmond’s teams will return to training this week and get ready for a home meet on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at Hinson Lake in Rockingham. They will host Hoke County and Southern Lee High Schools and begin racing at 5 p.m.