Monday, 30 November 2020 19:32

Four season-low times propel Lady Raiders to first SAC win

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Gabby Lutz, Kaleigh Cloninger, Sheccid Heaton and Maylyn Wallace run during Richmond's win on Monday. Gabby Lutz, Kaleigh Cloninger, Sheccid Heaton and Maylyn Wallace run during Richmond's win on Monday. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — Six runners finishing in the top nine spots, along with four Lady Raiders with season-low times, propelled the Richmond Senior High School girls’ cross country team to its first win of the season.

Hosting their first Sandhills Athletic Conference meet, the Lady Raiders used a strong home crowd to race past Jack Britt and Lumberton high schools.

Recording 29 points in the win, Richmond held off the second-place Lady Buccaneers, who ended the meet with 57 points. Lumberton only had two runners compete, not enough to qualify for the final team score.

Junior Maylyn Wallace recorded her third straight top-five finish, while senior Alena Craddock, sophomores Sheccid Heaton and Andrea Ellerbe, and freshman Gabby Lutz all aided the win with their fastest times of the season.

Also contributing was sophomore Rylie Bohman, who was just seven seconds off her personal best. Freshman Kaleigh Cloninger secured the win with a ninth-place finish.

Richmond’s home course is usually Hinson Lake in Rockingham, but the venue was moved to the high school’s campus. Runners started in Raider Stadium, ran the edges of the baseball and soccer fields before heading to the south end of campus.

After running the perimeter of the softball field, runners worked their way along the football practice fields, around the “boneyard” near the gym and then back for an outer and inner loop at Raider Stadium. 

Contesting with high winds, soggy ground conditions and cooler temperatures, head coach Jessica Covington said her team acclimated itself well to the elements.

“The course was definitely tough for all the runners, but I don’t think our girls showed it,” Covington said. “They did really well and it’s always a good feeling to run on your home course. I think that motivated our girls today.

“Maylyn kept up toward the front with some really tough competition,” Covington added. “Her time was really good for this course. Riley and Sheccid have both consistently gotten better and I was really proud of the whole team’s effort.”

Wallace finished third overall with a time of 23:01, just 12 seconds off her personal record set in week one of this season. Bohman’s time of 24:45 was good enough for fifth overall, and started a string of five consecutive Lady Raiders to cross the finish line.

Heaton took sixth place (25:47), Craddock had a new personal record of 26:19 for seventh place, and Lutz knocked an impressive 2:50 seconds off her previous best time to take eighth place (26:34). 

Cloninger’s ninth-place finish (26:56) didn’t qualify for the team score, but she offset several Jack Britt and Lumberton runners. Ellerbe did the same with a 12th-place mark, racing in at a season-best 28:02.

“There’s always an adrenaline rush on race day, so that helped me on the hills,” Wallace explained of the rolling course. “The wet ground was a big part of today’s race because my feet kept sticking in the mud. That’s something we don’t practice a lot, but I think the team did well.

“I’m grateful for being able to run with the top runners in each meet, but I look at my time more than anything. I want to keep improving, mostly pacing myself better and being able to speed up my second and third miles.”

Heaton credited having strong competition, both with her teammates and opposing runners, as the reason for Richmond’s first win of the fall.

“Since there are other runners during competition, we want to be faster and we want to win the meet,” Heaton explained. “When there are other runners, we’re more motivated and today our confidence was boosted when we ran against two good teams.”

The Lady Raiders will have a quick turnaround and return for another home meet on Wednesday. Richmond will welcome back Jack Britt, as well as Purnell Swett High School.

“It’s going to be tough to race Wednesday,” Covington closed, saying a week between races is ideal. “Both teams need to rest between now and then and we’ll focus a lot on stretching.”

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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