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Saturday, 16 January 2021 21:32

Lady Raiders 'have fun' at 4A Mideast Regionals; finish 10th

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Left to right: Gabby Lutz, Rylie Bohman, Maylyn Wallace, Kaleigh Cloninger, Sheccid Heaton and Jessica Covington smile together before Saturday's Regional race. Left to right: Gabby Lutz, Rylie Bohman, Maylyn Wallace, Kaleigh Cloninger, Sheccid Heaton and Jessica Covington smile together before Saturday's Regional race. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

CARY, N.C. — The Richmond Senior High School girls’ cross country season came to a close on Saturday at the NCHSAA 4A Mideast Regional race, but it wasn’t without a fight.

Head coach Jessica Covington and the five Lady Raider runners participated in the postseason meet held at WakeMed Soccer Park. Competing against 12 other schools, Richmond took 10th overall as a team with 300 points.

To add to the excitement of the Regional competition, a light snow began to fall in the closing minutes of Richmond’s race. The 13-team field was broken into three sections to alleviate congestion on the course, and the Lady Raiders raced against Apex Friendship, Athens Drive and Scotland high schools in the first flight.

Runners completed the 3.2 mile race by starting with a downhill run that looped them through a wooded area. To close the first lap of the race, teams had to return to the hill and run up a steady incline that lasted approximately a quarter mile. 

Another lap around the exterior of the complex sent runners through a mixture of varying terrains, including a packed gravel, more woods and soggy grass. The final stretch of the race was a return to the same hill, which saw the finish line waiting at the top.

“The girls did awesome today,” Covington said. “They had a really fast start going down the big hill, and I think that messed up our times a little bit. We still had a couple girls with personal records and that was against some of the toughest competition we’ve run against all season.

“The course was muddy from the rain yesterday, plus there was snow and sleet coming down on them today,” she added. “They aren’t used to running in this cold of weather, or the wind, so that made it difficult. Running up the big hill twice was tough but I’m so proud of how they competed.” 

Junior Maylyn Wallace paced Richmond with a final time of 23:04.91, which put her in 57th place overall in the field of 70 runners. It was her first time competing in a Regional race after missing last year’s race as a sophomore, and she notched 53 points for the Lady Raiders.

Maylyn Wallace nears the finish line in Saturday’s race.

Wallace said the elements and the terrain played a big part in the race, and added that prior to the big race, every runner had the right mindset in place.

“The course was pretty simple to navigate, but it was hard to run (physically),” Wallace said. “The rain and the mud made it difficult, plus the hill was super hard at the end when we were trying to finish the race.

“We wanted to go out there today and have fun,” she continued. “We definitely did great as a team and I feel really happy because we made it here and had the chance to compete.”

Three of the next four Lady Raiders to cross the finish line all set new personal records for the season. Sophomore Sheccid Heaton, running in her second Regional in two seasons, was second on the team, setting a PR of 24:29.47. 

She finished in 65th place and collected 60 points for the team, and started a strand of three straight Richmond runners to finish.

Sheccid Heaton, pictured here, ran in her second career Regional race.

Fellow sophomore Rylie Bohman closed on the heels of Heaton, taking 66th overall with a mark of 24:38.29 (61 points). Bohman and Heaton traded places all season, and the two used their friendly rivalry to push each other to the end.

“It was a really good race and it was nice to run somewhere new,” Bohman explained. “We’ve spent a lot of time running at Pinecrest this year and this gave us a new challenge. 

“I love running with my girls and this was a good way to end the season,” she added. “I’m really proud of all we’ve accomplished this year. We all love each other.”

Rylie Bohman (front) runs up the quarter-mile long hill during the first lap.

Just 17 seconds behind Bohman was freshman Kaleigh Cloninger, who was one of two ninth graders to impress for Richmond. Cloninger placed 66th overall (62 points) with a time of 24:55.83, which was 59 seconds faster than her previous best time this season.

Kaleigh Cloninger competed in her first Regional race on Saturday.

Rounding out the timesheet for Richmond was another personal record time for freshman Gabby Lutz. Her time of 25:28.58 was good enough for 68th overall and 64 points. But most impressive for her, she ended her first season by shaving 57 seconds off her previous PR set at the Elks Lodge course in the fourth meet of the year.

Gabby Lutz nears the finish line, which saw her set a new personal record.

Panther Creek High School took first overall (45 points) in the 4A race, followed by Apex (78) and Pinecrest (103) high schools. The top three teams all advanced to the state championship meet, along with the top four individual runners not on any of those three qualifying teams.

Those runners were Ellie Rush (Holly Springs), Mia Lanuti (Green Level), Abbey Kennedy (Middle Creek) and Camille Carlson (Holly Springs). Pinecrest’s Carmen Alder placed first overall with a time of 17:25.05.

“The girls really are a family and build each other up,” Covington said. “They’ve definitely been competitive and like to beat one another, but at the end of the day they’re hugging and are always looking forward to the next time they can run together.”

The Raider cross country team did not qualify for regionals. The Richmond Observer will publish season recaps on both teams next week.

Last modified on Saturday, 16 January 2021 21:38
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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