Tuesday, 19 January 2021 15:19

SEASON RECAP: Raider XC 'consistently improved' in 2020-21

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)
ROSports File Photo: Carson Jordan and Bryan Morales run during Richmond's season opener in November. ROSports File Photo: Carson Jordan and Bryan Morales run during Richmond's season opener in November. Deon Cranford - The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond Senior High School boys’ cross country team underwent a lot of changes this past season, but that doesn’t take away from how proud head coach Jessica Covington is of the Raiders.

The second athletic program to return to competitive meets following an eight-month stoppage of high school athletics, the Raider cross country team endured a rebuilding year. Coupled with the challenges of following COVID-19 protocols, Covington said the season was a success in her book.

“I’m very pleased with the way the season played out,” Covington noted. “We were all skeptical about our season and I am so pleased that we made it without having to cancel any of our meets.  

“I feel like this is proof that sports can continue and we can follow the set protocols and let the athletes run or play.”

At the onset of the season in November, the Raiders had their eyes set on returning to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A Mideast Regional. While that didn’t happen, several runners set new personal records and kept the Raiders competitive in their five regular-season meets.

Richmond ran two meets on its home course, two meets at the Elks Lodge in Southern Pines and opened its season at the James L. Morgan Recreation Complex in Laurinburg. The Sandhills Athletic Conference held its championship run at the Elks course, which saw the Raiders finish sixth overall.

The best finish for the Raiders came in the season opener, which saw the team place second overall in the 3.2 mile race. Teams were limited to just seven runners this season due to COVID-19, which was something all programs had to adjust to.

Richmond placed third overall in the next three meets, which included running on its home course around Richmond Senior High School’s campus. Prior to the SAC championship, the Raiders placed fourth in the final regular-season race in Southern Pines.

Covington said one of the things she was most impressed with was how much the boys’ program grew this year, as well as remained consistent in its ability to progress on the timesheet.

“We went from having only four returning runners to a team of 12 boys,” Covington said. “The team consistently improved every meet and competed internally to be in the top seven to run in the varsity races.  

“This was great to see how we could build each other up and work as a team to get better.”

Returning for their final season were seniors Carson Jordan and Will Thompson, both of whom were four-year runners who proved to be two of the Raiders’ most impactful performers. 

Jordan would cross the finish line in first place for the Raiders in each of the six races, while also recording a season-best time of 19:58 in the team’s second home meet on Dec. 2. He finished his career with a personal record of 19:07.45 at the 2019 Regionals during his junior year.

Thompson, who came into the season aiming to set a new personal record, set a new PR several times throughout the season. His best performance, however, was at home in early December, where he posted a final time of 21:38. 

Jordan and Thompson were the only two Raiders to qualify and finish each of the six races this season. Covington applauded their efforts as model teammates and leaders to their peers.

“I feel like Carson and Will did an awesome job stepping up and showing the rest of the team how to compete,” the head coach said. “They always came out ready to run and were great leaders for our team this year.”

When asked about the defining moment of the season, Covington said it was easily the team’s second home meet against Hoke County and Jack Britt high schools. In that race, six Raiders all notched new personal records.

Joining Thompson with a new PR were sophomore Bryan Morales (20:37), sophomore Kodie Simmons (21:55), sophomore Kevin Dominguez (22:51), freshman Chase McCormick (23:14) and freshman Samuel Hawks (23;15).  

“I really enjoyed our second meet at home and seeing almost every runner have a new PR,” Covington said. “This was so rewarding and great to see how they performed on our home turf. It was also nice to have our meets at Richmond and have the school more involved in our program.”

Runners like Morales and Hawks both ran in four meets this season, and Morales was a top-three finisher for Richmond until an injury ended his season early.

Freshman Cain Hunsucker competed five times, and all three are runners that Covington expects to help the team in the future. Simmons and fellow sophomore Naaman Perakis are also expected to continue to build the program.

“We will miss Carson and Will, but having all the guys return next year would be awesome for our team,” Covington closed. “We have grown so much this year, even with having a lot of first-year runners.  

“Now that these guys have had some experience running at the high school level, they know what will be ahead of them. That will be a huge advantage and help us next year.”  

Kyle Pillar

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

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

Twitter: ROSports_